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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can trust be regained?

To me, trust is an investment in a relationship with somebody. Be it a friend, business partner, significant other, stranger, family member, trusting someone is a risk we're willing to take. It involves two parties willing to bet on each other's integrity. Like any investment, we lose some, we gain some. But once an investment fails, do you reinvest in the same person?
from Raamabaanam.blogspot.com
For a long time now, I've wondered if it made any sense to repair broken trust. I still don't have the answer. In most cases, I have rebuilt trust with time. When I forgive, I forget. When I forget, I can trust again, to a certain level. The problem is to get to the "forgive" part. And once we forgive, forget and trust. Is it worth it?

It starts with a surprise

Ever had an exchange with an acquaintance or even a friend or family member, which surprises you to the point where you wonder whether you know them at all?

Sometimes, these discrepancies are just things we didn't expect but are okay with, just personal preferences such as belief in Astrology. I would consider this as just a difference. A belief/opinion that I don't share and that's completely fine. I don't think we need to agree on everything. In fact, my best friends and I often disagree on many, many things.

But sometimes, what we hear is shocking, against our moral code, against anything we think friendship would ever represent, against all expectations. There are certain things that I expect from any true friend. A true friend doesn't use your secrets against you. In fact, a true friend doesn't tell your secrets to anybody, even when you're not friends anymore. Does that not make sense? Is it just me?

The disconnect

Once my perception of a friendship is shattered, I feel an instant disconnect that is hard to ignore. I don't know who you are or what you want, but clearly it's not what I want. I'm gonna have to revise my trust level in you, "friend"... I think friends should have each other's back (unless legally bound otherwise, which is a completely different issue). Friends should respect each other's opinons, feelings, and trust. Anything less is just not friendship to me.

After years of internalizing the importance of honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty and the like, I find it hard to "not make a big deal out of it" when a friend's "loyalty" ends where his personal gains begin, or when people start to equate friendship with networking. I insist that networking is motivated by personal gain, while friendship doesn't have any other motive than enjoying each other's company.

The Guilt card

In their defense, people sometimes make you feel guilty about the whole situation, even though they know they messed up. "Get over it", "you're blowing this out of proportion", "I'm sorry, I didn't know you would be angry about this little thing", "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking". The last one is possibly the worst. You weren't thinking? THEN THINK MORE OFTEN. "Not thinking" is not the excuse but the crime itself.

When I forgive, I forget. And I usually do forgive. But it takes time. I'm told trust is like paper. Once crumpled it can't be perfect again. After a few years, wounds heal and memories fade. The context is gone and so are the consequences. Forgiving becomes much easier. But until then, you'll just have to earn it. Otherwise, I'm sorry but you're not sorry.

What did scouts not prepare me for?


When I took my scout oath to keep myself "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight", I really tried my hardest (perhaps a little too much) to abide by the 7 rules of scouting. Yet, I'm kind of surprised that I still remember them.. In the right order even:

A scout is to be trusted
A scout is loyal
A scout is friendly and considerate
A scout is brother to all scouts
A scout has courage in all difficulties
A scout makes good use of his time and is careful of his possessions and property
A scout has respect for himself and for others

The three virtues were honesty, devotion and purity.
The motto was to "Be Prepared".

I haven't consciously thought about these in years, but I suppose they have contributed to my personality, my moral values.

Unfortunately, the rules never addressed breaches in a tangible way. Losing badges and scarves don't apply beyond scouting years even though the rules still do. I think scouting prepared me to face physical challenges but not social/personal ones. As I tend to say lately, the problem is always people. And I don't mean "problem" in a pejorative sense, but I really think that proper handling of interactions is the key to success in many situations. The problem is always people. Solve people and you solve it all.