Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Fortifying Trust

Stripped Bare (CAI2019)
The way things have shifted, trust has been eroded out from under us, to the point where we're told it's a virtue not to trust.

Where trust is punished and breach of trust is rewarded.

Where children fear the derision of being tricked through emotional manipulation by other children, who could only have learned that from adults, the newly-grown children.

Maybe emotional manipulation is an evolutionary choice that some bloodlines are making in how they pass DNA to the next generation; maybe cruelty is a strategy for survival that means the planet wins, since most people will not survive what's coming.

We can't trust each other, and we've built all our systems around this premise, with some people using their power to fortify themselves against what they see as the inevitable future of misery for most people (while blinding themselves to the fact that the misery can't be staved off with money).

They encourage the rest of us to mistrust each other, and to screw each other over and not feel bad about it, using media, games, and financial rewards to attract the worst in young people and exploit their youthful selfishness before they realize why society is built the way it is in the first place. They trick people into accepting less by reducing their access to education and health care, housing and food.

Without the ability to put even basic trust in the people who make decisions for all of us, we flounder around, unable to trust each other or the systems that we have been born into and embroiled with.

Trust is built through shared experience. Maybe we don't have to descend into chaos as they remove all the supports. Maybe there is a way to work from what is falling to build something different, not so vertical, more peace-seeking in nature. Peace-seeking missiles.

But we're all running around scared, clinging to the ideas we used to have, wishing things were different, indulging the freeze of feeling helpless in the face of a powerful desire to act. We know how much it's going to ask, and surely things are not so dire as that, are they? It's not time to give up on our dreams of a peaceful, prosperous life and just fight for basic dignity, for something slightly better than survival. Is it? This isn't the last chance to rally our talents to some purpose. It can't be.

Here we are, at a moment just before, like we've seen before in history, and the people with power are not doing the same things. They are doing worse, faster, with more widespread support and more coordinated, resourced, technologically-enabled deliberation, having learned from their past failures. They are spreading mistrust like seeds to the wind. What to do in the face of that?

It's all nice to say "band together" but it's not like that at all. Mistrust is not something we just decide not to have. We can choose to behave as if we trust, to hold our mistrust at bay like a nervous dog barking at us.

Can we trust ourselves? That is the biggest journey, the hardest because it's hard to do alone and hard to do with other people. Learning to trust our best selves is the on-the-ground work that supports the systemic policy work and the activism and the research that supports it all. It's the parallel process that lets us bring what's needed. Fortifying our understanding of our own hearts, strengths, and burning needs can be like building a strong boat and installing navigation. But how many people take even 20 minutes a day to deeply check in with themselves?

I fear for the futures most probable.