It bothers me when someone says or indicates belief in an idea such as “you can only really trust yourself, one things for sure, people will let you down.” Thats been vernacularized a little bit, the sentiment takes many forms and we’ve all heard some variation of the theme. I also happen to think its bullshit. People don’t let us down, sometimes they do things that let us down. There is a distinction and however minor I believe it is important.
Accepting the idea that putting faith in people is somehow a naive sign of weakness or an idealistic fantasy just seems like an unnecessarily toxic way to approach life. I wouldn’t even be able to live with myself if I held as a fundamental law that disappointment was the inevitable and inescapable coda to human relationships. Did I go running this weekend? Hell no. How far are you along with your dad’s furniture website? Well….you see…..theres been so much going on. Yeah, sure, says my critical self.
But those are only minor disappointments, small drops in what could be an ocean of let down. There are far more serious things than intermittent laziness. Spouses cheat. Children steal. Family members may forget your birthday. All of a different caliber than ‘the dishes aren’t put away.’ Still, even with much larger issues, even when real and painful disappointment of the kind that can quickly become self-recrimination and personal doubt, to abolish belief in the essential goodness most of us possess doesn’t even achieve pyrrhic victory, its a total defeat. On one hand you will have changed nothing about the situation causing disappointment and on the other you have drawn tighter the boundaries of your experiential horizons.
I know this sounds way too utopian, and I’m sure an infinite variety of situations exist that neatly disprove an argument for uninterrupted faith in others, but for me, to do otherwise would be to sacrifice one of the most fundamentally rewarding things about existence, being open and inquisitive. It is so much less exhausting to remain open and accessible to the people around you than it is to maintain a perpetual, metaphorical ‘guard’. I am by no means a perfect practitioner of my own advice, I could rattle off a list of times I’ve fallen short of these professed beliefs. I don’t however, think a perfect record is critical. Simply keeping in mind that we’re all going to disappoint, let ourselves and somebody else, important people, down sometimes, likely several times, and making enough allowances for unavoidable lapses to prevent a total loss of faith is whats important.