Is Anyone to Be Trusted?

FOLLOWING the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a number of well-kept secrets were revealed. For instance, Lydia * discovered that during the Socialist regime in East Germany, the Stasi, or State Security Service, had compiled a file on her private activities. If Lydia was surprised to hear of the file, she was aghast to learn who had supplied the Stasi with information​—her husband. She had been betrayed by someone she should have been able to trust completely.

Robert was an elderly gentleman who regarded his local doctor with “the greatest respect, admiration and trust,” reports The Times of London. The doctor was said to have a “kind and sympathetic manner.” Then Robert died unexpectedly. Was it a heart attack or a stroke? No. The authorities concluded that the doctor had visited Robert in his home and, unbeknownst to Robert and his family, had given him a lethal injection. Robert was apparently murdered by a person he trusted completely.

Lydia and Robert each suffered an alarming breach of trust, with grave consequences. In other cases the results are not so serious. Nevertheless, being disappointed by a person we trust is not an unusual experience. A report published by a leading German polling institute, Allensbacher Jahrbuch der Demoskopie 1998-2002, revealed in one survey that 86 percent of the respondents had been let down by someone in whom they had placed their trust. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. Therefore, we need hardly be surprised that the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported in 2002 that “in Western industrial countries, relationships of mutual trust have been on the wane for decades.”

Developed Slowly, Destroyed Quickly

What is trust? According to one dictionary, to trust others means to “believe that they are honest and sincere and that they will not deliberately do anything that will hurt you.” Trust is developed slowly but can be destroyed in an instant. With so many sensing that their trust has been abused, is it any wonder that people are reluctant to have confidence in others? According to a survey published in Germany in 2002, “fewer than 1 in 3 youths have a basic trust in other people.”

We might ask ourselves: ‘Can we really trust anyone? Is it worth placing our trust in someone at the risk of being let down?’

[Footnote]

^ par. 2 Names have been changed.

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One survey revealed that 86 percent of the respondents had been let down by someone in whom they had placed their trust