Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Unable To Trust

Tied to yesterday's thoughts about emotional disconnection I wonder - have we become a people who are unable to trust?

My first memories of politics are after Watergate (for those friends who are ex-US, this was in 1974) - in fact, my very first memory is Gerald Ford being sworn in as President.  As a result, I cannot remember a time where Americans did not have a high (and ever mounting) distrust of their governmental institutions.  In some ways that is arguably a healthy thing (surely the Founders would have thought it so); on the other hand, a consistent and constant distrust makes actual forward progress a very difficult thing.

Or take our own personal lives.  So much of what many have now is based on a carefully controlled social image.  As someone pointed out to me last week, we almost never post about our fights or arguments or the things that put us in a bad light; to look at social media is to think that we are almost always photogenic, in a good mood, and our lives are smooth sailing.  I wonder if this too breeds a certain instinctive level of distrust:  after all, no-one's life can be 100% on all the time, can it?

We build images around ourselves, insulating layers of how we wish to be perceived - and suddenly find that insulation has made us different than what we thought we were.  And perhaps on some level we begin to distrust ourselves as well, if we really admitted it.  We have become disconnected from ourselves and in some cases, we - or at least I - begin to not trust the things that I am saying to myself in the dark corners of the night.

Do I have a solution for this? Not really.  I certainly wish I did of course - much like with emotional disconnectedness, relationships and societies (which are really just a very complicated web of relationships) cannot be maintained long term without it.

Trust implies a confidence, a faith in the other that they are what they are and will do what they say.  But if all we have become are images and layers, what is there that we can find to have faith in the other person?


LindaG said...

I don't share a lot because I am a private person and even my blog has not made me... wordy?
But if I get to know you through emailing with you, then you may find I share the 'dirty laundry', so to speak.

I hope you have a blessed day. :-)

Rain said...

Hi TB :) I definitely have a lack of trust for humanity and our society. It's more, if I order something online, I will expect it to be a piece of crap and be surprised if it's made with quality. I will also always expect an argument if I call customer service. I don't trust that any of these companies have my best interest in mind. I've also come to distrust people, especially in this village for example. Our neighbour turned on us simply because I couldn't drive her to the vet a few times last month. She was taking advantage of my kindness and I'd had enough and said it wouldn't be possible for me to drive her anymore. I guess to her it was the equivalent of tarring and feathering her because she's talking crap about us, we found out through someone else. Why bother trying to be friendly with people when they just turn on you anyway?

As for putting up an image. I personally will never blog in detail about my depressive episodes, financial troubles or even an argument I had with Alex. To me, all that is personal and I try to keep it that way because I don't like to dwell on it. I prefer to live with positivity and that's what I'm broadcasting on my blog. Plus I don't think people want to see photos of me first thing in the morning lol...I don't see it as putting on some kind of front or image, I see it more like having something pleasant for my readers who seem to enjoy it; and finding pride in what I'm doing. Then again, I don't do other social media like facebook where it might be more rampant.

Glen Filthie said...

Good post, TB.

I freely admit I no longer trust anyone. At all. Our gov't? Pbbfbfffft!!! I don't trust our media either. Or our bankers, our captains of industry and commerce or our spiritual leaders.

And that's just the beginning. I dare you: follow the tin foil hat crowd down some of these rabbit holes. Watergate? How about the assassination of JFK? I am a rifleman and I can tell you that assassination did not go down the way the officials said it did. Listen to the crackpots: look at their evidence as an intelligent man with a healthy skepticism. Look at 911 and the guys who say it was an inside job. Look at the Jewish Holocaust and the guys that were saying it was a hoax. Look at the jews that say it was orders of magnitude worse than reported. Do your own fact checking.

All of these narratives fall apart at some point and stop making sense. Those same gaps lend credence to the nutters, much as you hate to admit it.

The only thing that keeps me from going full retard on these conspiracy theories is the fact that most human beings are too damn stupid to carry them out! Some idiot always spills the beans or botches the operation.

Paranoia is a useful survival trait these days, I'm afraid.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Linda - I think their is certainly an element of personality to it - I, by nature, am very much introverted (although you would not think so to see me in the world). What worries me is that by sharing only images, we have lost the ability to share.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Rain - It is a valid point, made more real by the fact that Western Civilization seems largely run on the narcissistic imperative - e.g. the world is pretty much about me and my best interests and I am entitled to have my opinion always heard and accepted, my needs always met, and my emotional equilibrium never disturbed by you.

Fair enough as well in terms of what we share. I actually do not post a lot anywhere about my issues, except probably here and in such generalities (when involving other people) that only those who are involved in the issue would recognize themselves. I do try and be conscious of that of course - after all, if I cannot deal with it with you in person blogging about in the abstract seems cowardly at best and insulting at worst. And Lord knows we could use more positivity in the world (me most of all)! What bothers me - and this is always a careful balance - is that the social images we produce may make it seem like none of this happens. Example: If you do not see someone fight respectively (with words, of course), you assume people never do and if the situation arises you may be without an example to follow on how to conduct yourself. Or, one feels isolated (how many people feel only they are the ones that deal with something because no-one ever talks about it).

Not with everybody and not about everything, certainly. But it seems to me there is a difference between selectively sharing about the less than great parts of our lives and pretending that they never happen.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Glen, part of the problem (maybe related to another post someday) is that so much many of our public and even private organizations have squandered the ability to tell truth. Protection of themselves or their organization or their goals becomes more paramount than coming out with things that may put them in a bad light or even destroy them entirely.

For myself (and forgive me my bias) this seems the most offensive and worse when it is the Church. An organization that should be about the truth should not flinch from showing when it is less than it should be or misses the mark - but how many churches (at least here in the US) have been hit with scandals where things continued to be hidden because revealing the truth would have cost money or reputation?

Paranoia? Possibly. Or maybe just a healthy degree of skepticism

Glen Filthie said...

That's not bias, TB, that is common sense. For me to have any moral authority over you, I need to be honest and have your best interest at heart. If I abuse that trust and act against you - or worse, your kids - you have to move to protect yourself and my authority and credibility goes out the window. My wife got baptized last year and wants me to as well, as do all of our friends. Just between you and I - I won't do it for exactly that reason. I love my wife, and the wonderful people at our tiny chapel... but I won't give any man that kind of authority over me or my soul or allow them to get between me and my Maker.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I am conflicted in answering you Glen - on the one hand, yes I try to be careful with ceding authority (especially moral authority) to others over me; on the other hand (in your particular case), with the clear commandments of Christ and the apostles where they clearly speaking of being baptized. Different people are given different measures of grace.

Matt said...

TB, given the placement of the last sentence compared with the context of this comment, can you elaborate at length, if needed, on this last sentence and what you meant?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Sure Matt, I can try.

My comment is based on the (what to me) seems to be two opposing factors: Glen's (Sorry if I speaking for you Glen) belief that being baptized by man is giving man a moral authority over him and the command of Christ to the disciples in Matthew 28 to baptize the nations. It is not a tension I would be comfortable holding myself, but I am not Glen. If Glen's belief in Christ as the sole provision for his sin and only hope of resurrection, then it may not be my place to pontificate one way or the other on the matter - Certainly the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 did not include it in the life of the practicing Gentiles.

In one way I get it - for me, my religious convictions are an intensely private matter, perhaps not discussed as often as they should be and certainly creating odd gaps in my life (looking in from the outside) in terms of things I do and do not do. On the other hand, I really wish Glen would get baptized because it was a command of Christ. In this sense, he has a grace I do not in dealing with situation.

(Glen, sorry if I interpolated for you . Please feel free to correct.

Glen Filthie said...

TB my reticence is partly due to the fallibility of man, and partly due to my own lack of knowledge. I don't even know my way around the bible yet. Shoot - you could say anything about a certain passage and eight Christians will read it and come up with 12 different opinions about it. When we experts like you can't agree on it, what is a piker like me to think of it all?

There is a theological snobbery that sets up too, where this Christian says that Christian is not really a Christian because he thinks 'x' about 'y', or that he interprets the bible wrong, etc etc. It will be years before I can even form an intelligent opinion. I was raised in a liberal household where Christians were perceived as self righteous gas bags and bible thumpers with no redeeming values whatsoever!

I'm doing what I can for now. I work around gruff, profane men that are often dirty and crass. I used drink and smoke and my family fell almost completely apart awhile back under the pressures of that, political correctness, and liberal progressivism. I learned the hard way about the differences between virtue signalling, holiness spirals, and honest states of grace. Grace is not part of my upbringing or character... so I will have to do the best that I can. I listen to guys like you, Gorges Grouse, and the Bayou Renaissance Man and even the fellas in my own chapel. I am in no state of grace but it's good enough for me, for now, to see my wife into hers.

I will get there one day, of that I am certain. All it takes is time, effort and determination. As far as matters theological - you may speak for me any time.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

So first of all - if I have not said it before - we (or at least I) are happy you are in the Kingdom!

One of the great things I got from C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - but he wrote a fair amount on adult theology too) is that God always meets us where we are. It is not that He intends to stop - in fact, Lewis uses the example of a house where the new owner moves in and at first the house is okay with a new paint job or perhaps an upgrade in flooring. Then, all of a sudden, the house is dismayed: the new owner is tearing out rooms and putting up flying buttress and walls and galleries. Turns out the owner wants to make the house a castle. God want to ultimately make each of us into the image of His Son - not in the sense of uniformity (otherwise he just would have made us all the same!) but to reflect His Son in only the way we can. You have a unique way to reflect Christ; so do I.

I can assure that if you are committed to knowing God more, He will respond over and beyond whatever you can imagine. In terms of what to do, you already know the basics: Read the Bible, pray, be with other believers, seek His will and His holiness.

If it helps at all, I am also different in the same ways from some of the groups I associate with. I do not get "preachy" about it, I just live my life. Turns out for most people, they will respect the witness even if they do not agree with everything about Christ.

Thank you for your trust. I will try to live up to it.

Glen Filthie said...

It's complicated TB. There's also the problem of my various failings and sins. I've done stuff and had stuff done to me that can't be forgiven. If I can see my wife into grace that will be good enough for me. I need to BE a better person and mere virtue signalling won't cut it. Does that make sense?

Until I get there I intend to be honest with myself and my Maker and take whatever lumps I have coming.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Glen, if it makes you feel better at all we all have our failings, me most of all - except for Paul, who referred to himself as "the chief of sinners". That is the miracle of salvation.

And you are right about virtue signaling. It certainly will not cut it. Best to do things because you believe in them, not because it makes you "look" saved (Virtual signaling. I hate the phrase.)

Funny thing though, about being honest with God. Jesus said in John 3 "I did not come to condemn the world, but to save it" (my wording). Being honest with God is not like being honest with people - with people, you find judgment and a cry for "justice". With God, the repentant sinner will find mercy and acceptance.