I’ve written posts about the social contract and leading with love in the context of community. It occurred to me later that the root of love (in my 2/9/16 post) and the social contract (2/12/16) is trust. Like the five kinds of love, there are different kinds of trust. And like love, trust is a word that is too small to express all the things it represents.
Our society functions in a very substantial way on trust. Trust – the social contract kind – lets me drive to work in the morning and assume that no one will run a red light. Trust lets me put my credit card number into a website and assume that my identity won’t be stolen and that I’ll get a new pair of shoes in return.
Good relationships, whether with our kids, partners, friends, or colleagues, are built on trust. Trust lets me expose my vulnerabilities, tell the truth when someone asks “how are you?” and hear the truth in response when I ask the same, and know that I can depend on someone to have my back or help me bury a body. How can we love without trust?
I’ve been reading a book about a week that the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu spent together talking about life, death, and the joy of it all. The Dalai Lama says in it, “How do you develop trust? It’s simple: You show your genuine sense of concern for [another’s] well-being. Then trust will come. But if behind an artificial smile, or a big banquet, is a self-centered attitude deep inside of you, then there will never be trust. … As soon as I wake up, I remember Buddha’s teaching: the importance of kindness and compassion, wishing something good for others.”
Trust is part empathy, part discretion, part love, and part respect. According to cognitive theory, trust is one of the first things we learn in life. But how do we learn to be trustworthy?
As the cliché says, once trust is broken, it’s hard to make it whole again. Like most grownups, I’ve been undone by lost and misplaced trust, and put back together by love, compassion, courage, and truth.
The photo in this post – the first time the Dalai Lama danced, thanks to peer pressure from Archbishop Tutu – comes from this article about that week together.
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