Knowing who to trust – understanding enough of the world around you and the nature of people within it – could be life’s most important challenge. How are we to see through any lies, attempts at persuasion, well-meaning advice, and partial truths that’ve been thrown at us from the moment we arrived here?
Because, does anyone possess “the truth”? At best, we’ve probably got a version of it that makes enough sense from our perspective and fits our personal inclinations well enough. Isn’t that all we really have? The sequence of thoughts that put our own mind to rest with the compelling, reassuring or practical narrative they offered for living life by.
That’s not to say I don’t believe there “is” all-encompassing truth to be found in life, just that I’m not sure of many people who’ve yet found it. Yet, there are clearly many, many people happy to insist upon their version of absolute, unshakable truth – the world’s perhaps full of those telling us what to think, do, feel and believe.
How can we navigate that? Even if we believe all these people mean well in what they’re offering, how are we to integrate it all into a workable body of ideas to hold about “life”? Workable in the sense of this being an ongoing process of learning, overcoming obstacles and expanding our knowledge – any understanding likely being, at best, a working premise that’s holding the space for greater insight.
Within that picture, where does trust sit? Is there any perspective we can happily accept wholesale as the firm foundation for our worldview and unquestionable basis for our actions? If so, is it based on trust for the thinking involved or on some other “appeal” such as it supporting our position or not setting us against majority opinion? How do we decide what to believe?
It’s an interesting train of thought in that life’s, arguably, a reality surrounded by a world of ideas. What we think, believe and act upon in our choices, words and attitudes simply isn’t this “neutral” thing – it’s affecting the complex, interwoven realities that make the world what it is (Notes One). Our minds are, perhaps, the filters through which we’re deciding where to stand.
In that, then, who “can” we trust? People’s experiences are almost worlds apart – personal stories, wounds and concerns meaning we’ll likely take quite different meaning from very similar “realities”. How are we to find enough truth to be able to work with?
There’s probably no answer here. To my mind, it makes sense to trust those who are honest. It’d be great if everyone cared, if taking advantage of trust or ignorance never crossed a mind, but that’s rarely the case. At times interests might align, but we still need discernment to see where our paths converge or diverge. We can’t just follow blindly.
Another thing with thought, though, is that it does seem to offer freedom – beyond blind trust, it can, perhaps, see the truth and wisdom of what’s being said.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Invisible ties
Note 1: Who should we trust?
Note 1: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 1: The value of a questioning attitude?
Note 1: What would life be if we could trust?
Note 1: Do we really need incentives?
Note 1: Complication of being human
Note 1: What’s neutral?
Note 1: The value & cost of our words