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Trust, Knowledge and Acceptance

By Sarah Perrott

Where does trust go awry? We can witness many a life scene full of the wailing and sobbing of disbelief as one's expectations have been unfulfilled or even diametrically challenged. The indignant reaction we can all display in the face of the dreaded 'lie'. Yet it is interesting to note, that the same guy who sits in excruciating pain, after learning of his wife's affair with his brother, has spent the last few years, always late for work. I know, I know, "That is hardly a fair comparison," I hear you cry; but let's look a little further.

Why is he distraught? "I trusted you. I never thought you would do that! How could you?!!!" What is occurring as he adjusts to this new status quo? Isn't it just that? He thought there were certain fixed criteria that assured that behavior would stay within certain parameters; he had expectancies based on his knowledge to date. But the dynamics have changed and he was not informed. Now his expectancies are unrealistic and out of sync with others.

So it appears there are certain pointers that need to be mutually defined and updated for trust to be dependable. Some of us will make it more casual. We will say that we trust one thing or another but at base, we do not rely on those things in such a way that if they let us down, we would be severely impacted. We flirt with the idea of trust, with little expectancy. Whereas, there are others of us, who we watch with disdain/compassion as they repeatedly put trust into unreliable situations. We say these people are "gluttons for punishment" but really we watch, intrigued to witness whether their apparent bravery/foolishness will bring rewards or heartache.

In the same token, can we ourselves be trusted? We may be entrusted with information and yet later find that this is the very data needed to resolve someone else's grief. Now we teeter between the position of trustee or God. Do we divulge what we have been entrusted with? How do we choose? Many a time, this choice will be based on compulsion; fear; looking after one's own position; who we favor in the event at hand; prize principles which we habitually identify with.

There would be no soap operas if trust was reliable. It is a subjective commodity and vulnerable at each step. It doesn't necessarily become more significant with time, although if we are sufficiently aware, we can ourselves, observe the reality of things and therefore make our expectations more in line with reality. This introduces a different concept: knowledge. Suppose I trade my trust for knowledge... how would that go?

Again we witness the wailing and sobbing of disbelief as one's expectations have been unfulfilled or even diametrically challenged. But this time, instead of being wounded by the unexpected lie, we ask ourselves, did I really know what to expect? Ok, I thought I did but did I really know? Remember, the same guy who sits in excruciating pain, after learning of his wife's affair with his brother, has spent the last few years, always late for work. He spent the last ten years married to a woman who he thought he trusted. He didn't challenge that thought.

In the same way, although his contract of employment stated a starting time of 8.30 am, his boss had weighed his lateness up with his whole working life there and decided he was still a worthwhile employee. The boss has made decisions based on his knowledge of the employee; who has also found a comfortable, albeit regularly late, niche at his place of employment. In the case of his marriage, his ignorance has cost him dearly. Yet within his workplace, his expectancies have remained unfulfilled.

So further to our desire to trust, is a need for knowledge. However, how can we trust the knowledge? Perhaps you have asked your wife, "Are you happy with me, darling?" and they have responded positively. In fact, such was their desire to portray the wrong knowledge, they have covered many areas which may have alerted you had you been on the look-out for clues. We find that trust on its own, is negotiable and unreliable. Knowledge pertaining to the issue of trust can be given or withheld. These things cannot be changed and it is easy to empathize with those who sit in despair, after investing a lot of attention into their heartfelt desire; only to find, through lack of knowledge, their visions falling though their fingers.

It seems we are duped. Yet already we have progressed. We are not blindly trusting anymore and we see that all the knowledge in the world, cannot assure an outcome. So, what do we do? Stay clear of each other? Prohibit any joint ventures? Design legal contracts to accompany each and every agreement that is entered into? There seems one first obvious step to take; to recognize that we are all in the same position.

Now as soon as we see this, there are inner voices that scream, "Yeah, well that may be so but how come I am the one that always loses?!! How come her lack of knowledge gained her my house, my kids and my brother and my lack of knowledge has lost me the lot??!" Fair enough. It is true that there are both ends to this stick. Where the gamble of life is, there are both extremes: winners and losers, bullies and victims; great days and days full of struggle. It is the same for trust and life knowledge. We cannot progress further without accepting this reality.

I think I have a best friend. In my reality, we share everything and would drop anything superficial for anything the other needed. I trust her. I base my behavior toward her around these expectancies. I feel emotional stability within these beliefs. I am babysitting her children at her house several towns away. Upon realizing I have neglected to bring an important document for my University work, rather than illicit my husband's help, as I know he is very busy, I take a drive with the children back to our house to pick it up. Upon my arrival, I am aghast to find my husband and best friend, disheveled and curled up together in front of the open fire.

The schema that I have explodes in an instant and I see that my trust was blind and my knowledge incomplete. I am about to display rage and express how indignant I feel in the face of their deceit... and then I remember last week, when my elderly neighbor, Mrs. Skwint, asked for my help with her drunken son, begging me through the letter box...

We are all doing the same and having the same done to us; except no-one has decided it. Not even the wheelers and dealers who sit planning and scheming. They will land sometimes at one end of the stick and other times at the other end of the stick. Like you and like me. If we are to know what is really happening, we are going to need some real knowledge. What do I mean by real knowledge?

Well, if I am told that my tea-cup is blue, I can look and see and ask myself, "Is my tea cup blue?" and if it is, I have knowledge. So what is that statement before I have checked it? It is data. In the same way, when my friend tells me she would drop anything for me, it is data. This remains data until it is proved. But even if there is an event where I judge my friend to prioritize my needs before her desires, she is not like the tea-cup. Her position is not immovable. It may be that one day she is able to subjugate herself for another, and another day it does not even enter into her possibilities.

So we have another variable to consider here. There are some things that are fixed and others that are subject to change. This is where true knowledge begins. If we make a study of what is fixed and what can change, we will know what can be relied upon and what cannot be or rather, what can be trusted to remain as it is and what can be trusted to change - or what the facts are and what possibilities they hold.

In place of trust, we can place observation -> data -> verification -> knowledge -> acceptance. This trade means less confusion; less guess work; less taking someone else's word for it and therefore less blame and negativity. When we verify things for ourselves, we have only ourselves to hold responsible. However, to make these principles a reality, we need to start thinking differently, beginning with the realization that we do not already know. To arrive at this initial point can take many years. We can make a start by learning to observe ourselves.

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