I’ve been reflecting lately on how pervasive the lack of trust is in our modern world. Strangers are “dangerous.” Every other person is suspect in some manner or another. Our governments and law enforcement officials tell us to report our neighbors if they’re doing anything we think might be “criminal.” Conservative religious traditions tend to speak of humans as damaged goods, and offer that the only way to become whole and worthy again is to submit to some authority figure. The very fact that our legal codes fill entire libraries is a testament to how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.
When trust in our basic goodness goes, so does vision. The kind of vision needed to develop a more compassionate, loving society. I’m not interested in providing scientific evidence for this. Who the hell needs a pile of research to see how destructive a lack of trust is? In fact, I’m kind of convinced that the very endless pursuit of evidence, scientific or otherwise, is tied to a lack of trust.
Zen Master Yasutani Roshi once wrote, “The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.” The failure to trust in basic human goodness is essentially a denial of your own basic goodness. This isn’t to say that we go about our lives in some naïve manner. Sometimes circumstances call for protective measures and being careful to not reveal too much about ourselves. However, that’s very different from seeing people as “evil,” as “enemies,” as inherently damaged and in need of some kind of total redemption.
Each of us is the universe. And it’s only in coming together that we can build communities and nations that allow us to see and experience this truth. Without trust in our basic goodness, our basic greatness even, what remains is a state of warfare. Both inside each of us, and all around us.
City Trust by David Sutherland via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.