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Posted 10-11-2008 at 11:40 PM by Andy
Updated 10-12-2008 at 12:34 AM by Andy
There was a thread begun recently but I want to have my own say on this subject here.

Trust is like air. It is everywhere and entirely necessary and similarily taken for granted until it is betrayed. That is why we are likely to take it lightly; we may even fool ourselves -feeling all post modern and intellectually sophisticated- that it doesn't really matter.

I would disagree with this possible conclusion. I would even go as far to say that it would almost be as foolish position to reach as a person who decided they really didn' t need air. We were once, afterall, entirely dependent creatures; when we reached the point where we drew some distinction between ourselves and the external world we already were within a matrix of trust where it was we doing all the trusting, all the investing, all the reaching out hopefully toward a world that was bright and blooming and mostly -in fact- without fear. We were children and everything was marked out neatly and we played our games and felt our intense pleasures and occasional pains and dreamed.

We do not leave this protected world very much. There seems to be a long period of a certain arrogance when we really feel that we 'know something' -some would argue most Republicans never go beyond such a phase! -reaching beyond adolescence. I see myself as having fairly recently emerged from this phase and it is now that I turn again to this word 'trust' and ask what it means.

I trust the money I deem to be in my bank account will be maintained at the level I believe it to be. This goes with all my financial arrangements and actually reaches out - in a seemingly contingent manner - to all other financial arrangements and transactions be they governmental or personal, for all other people in this country I am in and the world in general as far as I believe it to be governed fairly and rationally in line with certain notions I have about freedom and the rule of law.

This is just one instance of how the trusting reach of my contingent sense of things seems to work. This could be expanded to all the diverse services -governmental and commercial- that allow the world as we know it to function as we believe it does. The structures that support ongoing human existence at the level of comfort and prosperity we now hold to be the norm for the lucky few at least.

So what? It seems that I didn't much give a damn for a long time and then I saw how easy - through my own intuition and experiences - it is to allow ones own children to grow up without love, to become insensitive and conditioned to the supposed loved ones around you to that extent that love has become just a word. I believe the complex and the simple are just different faces of the same living body we know as humanity. Like in the former Soviet Union, if there is not a vital, living trust tying the inhabitants of a society together at any given moment that society we gradually begin to cave in. I think this is also true for the 'simpler' structure of the modern family and the trust and affection that must exist between its members if is to continue as a viable reality. In the more complex instance of an entire society it may take a long time and you may control, brutalise and reign over with terror and believe you have got the better of any 'human nature' still lingering but eventually the turn will come.

The Soviet Union is one large example of the failure of trust on a vast scale. What a complex and deeply imperfect society like Great Britain or the USA allows is the scope for failure -both in individuals and institutions including of course the modern family. Things may fail badly but there is always the room made possible by the implicit trust that binds us all together. You may fall but we will catch you if we can. Sometimes this can be a cool, formal presence that tempts us to think of Orwell and his vision of a world gone to the dogs but we know, at the end of the day, we have built something strong.

When our financial institutions fail and we are told we have been let down by small groups of greedy and wrong headed people we wonder at the contingency and heartlessness of the game we are all tied up in. However, we have never been totally free to do as we please. All of us face the demand -coming from the centre of our social selves, the core of our identities - to commune with a larger world through whatever action we can muster. This urge in us -however misanthropically and even perversely inspired it may sometimes seem- I believe is still part of that same trusting gesture we first made as children during the first stirrings of self consciousness.
Total Comments 4


Ben Burkhill's Avatar
I'm curious as to why you put this here and not there Andy? Just curious, not judgemental - I would like the chance to quote you and expand on these insightful understandings in the more public social forum.
Posted 10-12-2008 at 12:11 AM by Ben Burkhill Ben Burkhill is offline
Andy's Avatar
Because this is a short essay and I didn't want it to become thread fodder -obviously threads fade quickly too.
Posted 10-12-2008 at 12:30 AM by Andy Andy is offline
Ben Burkhill's Avatar
Thread fodder - I like the term. Fair call.
Posted 10-12-2008 at 05:24 AM by Ben Burkhill Ben Burkhill is offline
Andy's Avatar
In the - perhaps- post financial breakdown world we are now living in we do trust institutions a little less I think. It is also fair to say they probably trust us less too. Actually, they are US and we are THEM! Our institutions are merely a reflection of the deeply ingrained traditions and values of our society and culture. We don't entirely condemn the fat cats because part of us would like to be one too - such people represent our own longing for security and comfort taken to an extreme. The kind of society we have chosen for ourselves is one in which comfort and security are the main values animating discourse behind the scenes. As more soldiers die in Afghanistan we may wonder at the extent of their sacrifice in contrast to the safe, quite lazy, lives we lead. The modern world has enemies who will, given the chance, kill people in random acts of aggression. This fact often strikes one as absurd; yet what kind of world would it be where there weren't some kind of enemy at the gates threatening destruction? Would things be different if our culture was less self-satisfied, more animated by the old fashioned 'terror' that seemed to be what religion has, in its purest forms, been involved with?

No, I think we rarely or never feel terror and this is probably a good thing. We are reminded of what that emotion might be when we contemplate what the soldiers put up with daily over there. The trust we put in them is immense really yet forgetfully held. The current debate in Britain over the adequacy of their hardware and how we treat them when they get hurt reflects both a sense of loss and searching gratitude. What are we doing out there? Why is most of the world so fucked up and what does the odd skirmish aimed to make us feel a little safer in our already safe lives - in comparison to the majority of the human race - all about?
Posted 08-16-2009 at 03:09 PM by Andy Andy is offline
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