The Benjamin Franklin series I wrote is over, but I am continuing the type of posts where I look at a specific quote and write about it. In this case I took a quote from my quote website by Harold MacMillan. I hope you enjoy it. If nothing else these writings are always from the heart. – William Kristoph
“A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” – Harold MacMillan
Two Ways To Understand Trust
There are two ways to work with trust. I can either trust a new person until I have no reason to trust them anymore, or I approach with caution until a person earns my trust. The latter sounds a bit arrogant to me, and the former sounds unbelievably naive to me. It doesn’t mean that either one is wrong, just that I’m not an extreme person. So what do I do about trust? How do I navigate a world that relies on trusting relationships, yet is full of “us” (people who make mistakes on a daily basis, violating trust)?
Solution #1 – A Childlike View of Trust
Perhaps one way to look at trusting relationships is by looking at the de facto way everyone trusts. As babies and children, we inherently trust adults, other children, animals and toys. It’s a world full of trust, because at that point in life we haven’t experienced a violation of it. As adults, maybe we can apply this childlike trust to new people we encounter? I’m not saying to hand the keys over to a stranger, but ultimately, we can take the attitude that most people have good intentions.
Solution #2 – Trust No One Mr. Mulder
The other extreme is to take the Fox Mulder approach and avoid trusting up front. Trust only those that prove they are trustworthy over long periods of time. Okay, maybe that’s an extreme example, but my point is that it’s an option. It’s a lonely option, but it’s an option that avoids outside forces causing problems. That’s the appeal of it for some people and I think it’s actually about the illusion of control.
Where Does Harold MacMillan’s Quote Stand?
Harold MacMillan’s quote isn’t really about how to trust, but that we should trust or run the risk of being an outcast. It took me a long time to understand that the most of the world is about community and friends, in addition to family. Naturally, community and friends involve levels of trust. It’s easy to understand MacMillan’s position then, that others view us as untrustworthy when we are very picky with trust or lack trust in others at all. I bet for most people who fall into the Solution #2 group it is endlessly frustrating to feel that others don’t trust them for no apparent reason. Maybe that realization is what helps everyone find some happy mediums between #1 and #2? Either way, MacMillan’s quote is good life advice, and it’s something we can all work on.