My short piece on trust garners some interesting reactions. Not everyone gets my point; they talk about trusting others as though it was a choice.
That's not the kind of trust I was writing about, or not only that. You are -- right now! -- trusting others, or you wouldn't be connected to the Internet; you would not be connected to utility power, you wouldn't eat any food you didn't raise or grow yourself and you certainly wouldn't drive a car on the public roads or walk on the sidewalks and you would never, ever cross the street on foot. You'd spend all your time safe inside the bunker you dug for yourself, never picking up the mail (anthrax or worse!) or coming into contact with others.
Trusting others isn't a bug and it's not an optional feature, either. It's an inherent part of being engaged in a functioning society. It doesn't keep you from noting the location of exits, from being mindful of suspicious persons or situations, or from avoiding risk you deem excessive. And, yes, there are people who exploit that inherent trust -- but understand that they're rare. Mailbombers and mass shooters grab headlines but you're more likely to be hit by lighting.
Someone within a few miles of you has staggering quantities of poisonous chemicals; someone not too far away has a basement armory that would beggar belief. All around you are people whose jobs, hobbies and/or skill sets include deadly capabilities and the means to use them. Most of the people around you operate automobiles or other motor vehicles, one of the most deadly contraptions human ingenuity has yet devised, implacable machines that rend flesh and crush bones, and you don't cringe away in fear. You trust them to stop at red lights and stop signs -- and they do, 99.9999999% of the time.
I trust people -- and so do you. Every time you get on an elevator, you trust the people who designed it, installed it and maintain it. You trust the company that made the hoist cable and the brakes, that made the electric motor and the controls. You step right in the thing, the doors close -- and it carries you to your selected floor. Most of the time, you don't even think about it,* you just push the button and off it goes. And that kind of trust is repeated over and over, by you and all around you, a network of shared trust. Yes, some people take advantage of it and you've got to be alert for that -- but that doesn't keep you from relying on others, all day, every day, often without even considering it.
* I'm not a fan. Occasionally, my work takes me to the tops of tall buildings, carrying tools or gadgets, and I am reminded that I am much less a fan of a hundred flights of stairs. I get on the elevator, trusting.
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