Yesterday as I was coming home in the evening, walking up the steps to my apartment and pulling out my key, a young man standing by the door of my neighborhood’s leasing office called out to me. The office was closed for the day, the door locked and no one there, but all his personal belongings were inside. He had been in the office a couple of hours earlier finalizing a lease for an apartment he was hoping to move into that day, but he had to leave for a couple of hours and the office staff said they would wait for him. They must have forgotten because they were gone and he was locked out with no way of contacting them. He was a student who had just moved to the United States from France and didn’t have a phone yet. So he asked to borrow mine. It was a simple request, but I almost said no. Something not-so-nice happened to me in that very place only a few months back and a few months before that my phone was stolen. So, since then I’ve been hesitant to lend my phone and much more cautious around people in my neighborhood that I don’t know. Fortunately, my gut told me to trust him and I listened. He talked to the office people and within a few minutes someone was on their way back to open the door for him and finish processing his lease. He looked so relieved and thanked me sincerely for helping him.
It was a simple and small interaction really–the kind of thing I know happens everywhere everyday–but in the moment it felt quite significant because it reminded me of how important it is to trust. Actually, many things over the last week or so have opened my eyes to this, but yesterday is when it became more concrete.
In the world we live in today, we are given a lot of reasons not to trust each other. We hear terrible things in the news, like the school stabbing that happened yesterday in Pennsylvania or massive credit card frauds. Or harder yet, we witness crimes and injustices in our own communities that affect us or our close friends and families directly. And these are just the more obvious reasons to mistrust. On Facebook statuses or in person, friends share again and again their frustration with people in their lives who do not get back to them or fail to follow through with their commitments and promises. They express feeling disconnected. They feel unvalued, unloved, and they mistrust. I feel it too, everyday almost.
But I am determined, more so than ever now, not to forget to trust because it is only through trusting that we allow ourselves to serve those around us, let down our walls, and make the effort needed to create and sustain true, meaningful friendships. In fact, trust is one of the key ingredients needed to change our world. Here’s a quote a I like from a cool political scientist named Francis Fukayama: “Law contract and economic rationality provide a necessary but not sufficient basis for both the stability and prosperity of postindustrial societies; they must as well be leavened with reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust.” And here’s a beautiful song/music video by Jason Mraz that I think touches on the same idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1-4u9W-bns.
How do we keep trusting each other when we have so many reasons not to? I’ve asked myself this a lot lately and it’s probably something I’ll continue to ask the rest of my life. Part of the answer is clear. For every reason we have not to trust, we are given dozens of reasons to trust. For example, my phone got stollen by one person a little while back. But it also has not be stolen by hundreds of people who could have stolen it if they wanted to. And yes something scary happened in to me in my neighborhood, but almost every day something sweet and lovely happens, like children who I know run up to me asking me to play or my next door neighborhood wishes me a good day at school.
I am learning that another part of the answer to my question is to trust in God, not people. When we trust in God and in the purpose for which were created, we don’t fear as much and we are able to trust others even knowing that we may get hurt. Trusting in others and showing our love for them becomes not about us or them but about our love for God and for all of humanity. And any challenge or difficulty we meet along the way we know has a reason and purpose. Here’s a quote I love from the Baha’i Writings on trust: “Verily the Will of God acts sometimes in a way for which mankind is unable to find out the reason. The causes and reasons shall appear.Trust in God and confide in Him, and resign thyself to the Will of God. Verily thy God is affectionate, compassionate and merciful … and will cause His Mercy to descend upon Thee.”