I remain idealistic enough to believe that the majority of people are worthy of my trust.
I admit it; I’m a trusting person. Too trusting? I guess that depends. I am realistic; I’ve come across people I haven’t easily trusted. I’m secure enough not to allow myself to be blindly taken advantage of. But, I simply refuse to become jaded and cynical. You can call me naive. You can call me a pushover. But, I want trust to be my default setting. I want to believe the best about the people I know and even the people I have yet to meet.
I read an article last night that caused me to question my perspective. According to research cited in the article, more than four out of five Millennials—those who were born during or after 1981 and reached young adulthood around 2000—believe that, generally speaking, most people cannot be trusted.
I find that to be both disturbing and sad.
It’s disturbing because I wonder what happens to the social institutions that form the basis of society when people decide they can no longer trust. What happens to institutions like marriage, family, the school system, the business world, the church, and, yes, even the government, when people quit trusting one another? It’s disturbing.
It’s sad because people who refuse to trust miss out on some of the most beautiful things this life has to offer: see the above list. Those who refuse to trust harden themselves against the vulnerability necessary for marriage to survive, the most effective tools in every parent’s repertoire, the capacity to learn from their teachers, the ability to do good and lasting work, the experience of relationships with God and his people, and the good things that can be built in society when people work together. It’s sad.
Although we may believe that trust is not an important cultural currency in an age in which you can do almost everything you want without ever interacting with a human, I believe that it is, and will remain, far more important than we might allow ourselves to believe. Without the willingness to trust, simply put, we forfeit the opportunity to love and be loved. And, no matter where we might find ourselves, that is the most important thing in life.
Do you find it easy or difficult to trust people? Will you decide to trust or not to trust?
By the way, although I’m technically a Gen-Xer (born in ’77), I scored a 78 on this “How Millennial Are You?” quiz. How Millennial are you?