A child is about to be hit by a moving vehicle. An instant reflex makes us pull the child away, and the driver to apply brakes. The result may be a few bruises, or a minor accident due to the sudden application of brakes, but the safety of the child is paramount. And this is not necessarily, YOUR CHILD.
Why is this kid laughing ?
He trusts that the adult is bigger and stronger, and cares.
He does not know the consequences of a fall. Hence, the mind is without fear.
He hopes to land in somebody’s arms.
Introduction to Trust
Human beings are genetically wired to like babies. Their innocence and helplessness, instantly arouse our protective instincts. This instinct extends further into our love for pets, depending on our perception and needs. The cute puppy is a ‘Baby’ for one, and a destructive irritant to another member of the family. It is a projection of our innermost self into the world. The behaviour is egged on by our need to be unconditionally loved, or a distrust of dissimilar species.
We are introduced to the concept of Trust in early infancy – when we have no other option but to trust our caretakers. We are born into an idyllic situation of unconditional love. The concept gradually changes into suspicion and distrust. This happens with occurrence of a clash of interest, coupled with our basic instincts for self-preservation.
‘Is Mom telling Dad about my misadventures during the day?’
‘Did Bro or Sis devour my share of the cake?’
And we learn to evolve our defence strategies. However, we have to continue living under the same roof, with the same set of people, and we depend on them for survival.
Evolution of Trust
Trust is now a need, a strategy, not an instinct. The need to trust emanates from dependence, and the consequent mutual benefits.
1. Role play expectations
‘You are my mother, and hence, you are supposed to do it for me. Everybody’s Mom does it.’
2. Mutual Benefit
‘You don’t tell Mom that I took the cookie, and I won’t say that you spilt the drink on the sofa.’
3. Partnership in crime or lies
‘We’ll blame it on the dog’.
4. Past experience
‘She has always stood by me, through thick and thin’.
5. Expecting a return
‘I helped him with his homework’.
Embedding of Trust in the psyche
Trust may be the glue between a group of strangers working on a common project, a group of friends on a mountaineering expedition or a family sharing the same roof. It becomes a code of conduct for evolved human beings.
We see it in noble animals, who love, trust and help each other, and extend the same behaviour to a different species. We also see the ‘Might is Right’ rule of the animal kingdom, where the weaker organism becomes a meal for someone else. We see their courage, and their defence strategies.
And we choose our path, which is a function of our value system and past experience.
The Trust Test
What happens if there is a clash of interest, for my survival ?
- I work towards my own gain, irrespective of the bond with the other person.
- I try and find a mutually beneficial solution, with minimum damage inflicted.
- I mitigate the blow, by informing the aggrieved party, of the circumstances under which I am compelled to do this.
If the other person is a stepping stone to my success ?
The other person is an unsuspecting ally or friend, and has done nothing to harm me. Maybe, he has helped me in the past. But I will not get that inheritance or promotion or the proverbial pot of gold, unless I harm this person. So, I choose to sacrifice him.
If the other person is smart enough to see through the game?
I devise games to gain his trust, and be seen as an ally. Then, I subtly choose to play the last card to win. I enjoy the thrill of subtle warfare, of mind-bending risk, of a stimulating challenge, and the ultimate victory.
If the other person is innocent and unsuspecting, and I stand to gain nothing from the game ?
Yet, I choose to kill him, metaphorically. It is the characteristic of a cold-blooded, apathetic criminal, who derives pleasure from feeding on sores.
The Game of Life
If I placed trust in another individual or a situation, why did I do so ? Why do I think that another is responsible for my welfare? Which childhood situation drives my expectations?
Life is another name for growing up, and growing together or apart.
The response of the victim in recovering from the blow , and rebuilding his life, becomes the ultimate test for survival. It turns him into a strong person, a sceptic, a cynic or another perpetrator of injustice.
And is the perpetrator ever able to trust, after doing the deed?