The Currency of Trust

by Antonio Dias

The last post has brought us to the point of examining trust. This phrase, the currency of trust, appears to hold some promise.

Let’s begin with another word, seriousness. Serious, trust, compassion; these are among a suite of terms we fear today, or hide our fear behind disdain at their current condition and denatured meanings. Seriousness and sincerity have come to be two such terms much in need of a rehabilitation.

What is it to be serious?

Let’s try some possibilities and see how they fit.

It is to value trust.

What does trust mean in this regard?

It’s beginning to appear that trust is our sense that another will act with awareness of the hazards of hubris and of the dangers within an easy custom of resorting to violence and coercion.

If vulnerability is to be allowed to flourish so we can reap the rewards of openness then we need to be able to meet each other within a space that values and honors vulnerability.

This is totally alien to our accustomed conditioning. Vulnerability is “a sucker’s play!” Trust, seriousness, sincerity itself are masks and poses to gain and defend an upper hand.

Violence is a tool to wield at any opportunity in whatever way we can “get away with.” Blindness to violence and its effects on anyone or even on our selves is accepted as a laudable trait. It is to be tough! And that brings us back to the travesty that passes for being serious today. Blind to violence and its effects, how it affects us all, as well as the atmosphere of supreme alienation and distrust it fosters; we seek to pass on the pain whenever and wherever we can. Guilt we may feel, we admit to be an acceptable price to pay. Just another form of pain for us to inure ourselves to within one of the various strategies of intoxication. The power we accumulate gives us the means to execute these ends.

“Oh! Happy Day!”

No one reading this far has any illusions left that this is a good way to proceed. But we all lack the framework, the tools, the habits required to do something to change this for our selves. Even our language fails us as we stumble among the ruins of these once valued terms.

Even then, as simple a phrase as that, is open to such easy misinterpretation! It can so easily be subverted into the crippled and crippling language of nostalgia. If we accept this we are well on our way into the violence at the heart of banality.

Let us accept that we do not know what these terms mean. We can only reinvigorate them by breathing life into them, not by continuing, even if in some modified form, to brandish them as empty talismans without looking within to find where they are rooted.

Seriousness, the position from which we practice and expect trust, has at its heart a working familiarity with the dynamics involved in our emotional proprioception. No one who continues to harbor the illusion that “Somebody has made me mad!” can carry out the responsibilities within a relationship of trust. Even if this lack is camouflaged by faux naiveté, this excuse has but a short shelf life. As we’ve seen, talk of change is but an evasion, whether made by a false lover or a world “leader.”

Being serious also expects that we withhold judgement. That we allow these situations to unfold without jumping to conclusions and relishing in the false pleasures of our righteous indignation.

Any interaction we have with another is vulnerable in so many ways. One of the most difficult vulnerabilities to accept is that we are always, constantly, on the edge of misunderstanding. That most if not all our perceptions of agreement and understanding are riddled with miscommunications and ready at any moment to dissolve and destroy our connection if we fail to accept this fact and continue to chase after some beloved consensus.

There are different ways to approach this fact. We can fear it and retreat into defensive isolation or preemptive aggression, or we can develop a habit of accepting that when another disagrees or fails to understand, or acts in a way that we misconstrue, that it may have been an artifact of our mutual confusion and not an out-and-out attack.

Seriousness, trust, expects that while we do not act out of violent or coercive will, that we respect that every action is rife with unintended consequences. The vigor of our vulnerability is in the way we are able to remain in an open and vulnerable, questioning place, even when we feel threatened. Only then do we allow for the possibility that among those involved some level of insight or understanding may present itself.

We navigate between the “Chip on the shoulder” and the “victim” roles. We practice being and acting without resorting to projecting ourselves in any role at all!

Within the mechanism that leads to toxic simulacra. The way terms get twisted around to mean their opposites. Seriousness today is often wrapped within an easy acceptance of violence. Our guilty grimace at the criminal or soldier lashing out against his enemies is our instinctive reaction to the corrupting compromise at the heart of this view. However much we strive to admire this kind of action, or even to decry it and secretly wish for our own friendly “avenger” to sweep the world of this blight; our organism knows what we seek to deny. This seduction takes us away from our strength and onto a path that leads to weakness as we chase after power.

Seriousness exists when we are vibrantly aware of the violence that surrounds us and seeks to dominate us.

While this needs to be the subject of its own investigation, what appears to be is that there is a useful distinction to be made between what we call violent acts “of nature,” and the violence that exists within the human realm. If we maintain that any action that is forceful is violent, we conflate those actions that take place at other than human scales with the kind of acts that have their beginning and end within anger and fear within the human heart.

A suffocating wave, an earthquake, a “violent” wind; for all that our habits of language press us to give these “malevolent” causes; exist outside of any realm in which our emotional reaction has any traction. To be angry with the sea is a fool’s trap. This is one of the deepest lessons we gain from spending time on the water.

The same is true of forceful acts between creatures within an ecology of mutual interdependence. The Lioness is not “angry” with the Zebra. And no Zebra wastes much of its life being angry at her! These acts also have no counterpart in the human realm of violence. War is not biological necessity carried out by other means. It is a result of psychological disturbances resonating within our world.

With this brief background then, when we look at the need for the serious to be aware of and vigilant surrounding violence it is this that is meant by violence. This is not the task of some noble “warrior” class to “defend” us from forceful actions. It is the need we all have to tune ourselves to an increased sensitivity to the emotional violence that now infects all aspects of the human realm.

In this way, the task of the serious is not defensive at all. Neither is it aggressive. It is an act of witness coupled with the development of strength and compassion to be able to face this awareness and find ways to break the cycles that perpetuate it. This transcends self-preservation. This does not demand of us that we remain mired in fear and hate and disappointment either. It expects that we find and nurture the joy that is here all around us. That we find and nurture the abundance that is here once we abandon the false securities promised by the agencies of fear. This is not, nor is any of this some exhortation to convince anyone of the “benefits” of making some “choice.” Seriousness is not a “lifestyle.” It is not at the end of any cost-benefit analysis. It arises of its own strength as we become aware of the way things are. And of our need to meet the challenges of life without loosing our focus on what it takes to actually live our lives.

We could say then that these are the parameters of a currency of trust. That we holographically embody seriousness of this kind and that we seek it out in others. That we find ways to share this currency and to expand its proliferation. That we hold our trust in this to be more valuable than simple self-preservation. That we hold that an acceptance of this trust means we will live within joy as we find it and expand joy’s place in our lives and in all of life around us.

This currency of trust is founded and can only stand upon a commitment to seriousness and its foundations in tapping into our sincerity. Unless we can be clear on how the currency of trust operates we remain confused and confusing others as we attempt to interact with each other. This is at the core of our perceptions of futility. It also points to a way to by-pass the traps of our striving and find another way to interact and relate.

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