Monday, January 23, 2006

Trust

"So you think you can't trust her?"

"mm hmmm ... yeah, you can say that."

"Considering the position you're in, that's intriguing...but I've never understood why you need to trust someone at all? I mean, what's the point?"

"Huh? What do you mean why? We all need to to be able to trust people, don't we? Isn't every meaningful relationship based on trust?"

"Yeah, that's what everyone says, but then probe a little and you find things are different."

"Different?"

"Yeah, different.
In my opinion, trust is, in some way, connected to expectation. There is a want, a need, to trust only when you want something in return. When you want nothing in return, there is no need to trust!"

"Huh? You just lost me there..."

"So what's new?... See, say you have a motorbike ok?"

"Ok..."

"It's 5 in the morning, it's freezing cold, and you have to get to some place in half an hour. And the only way to do it is by driving your motorbike there..."

"mmm hmmm..."

"...and this is a bike which you've shelled out a fortune to own. A bike you expect to conform to a certain level of performance. A bike you expect to come to life when you kick it on a cold morning, when it's freezing and when you have barely enough time to make an appointment; you expect, you trust the bike to start..."

"Of course, but..."

"...and when it doesn't, you feel let down. You're disappointed. You curse the bike, you bad-mouth the maker...all because you expected the bike to perform..."

"And what's wrong with that? After all I have invested so much on it haven't I?"

"Exactly. You have invested so much on the bike, you expect it to perform, you trust it to start when you need it the most, and when it doesn't you feel disappointed."

"So? I still don't see what you're getting at..."

"I'm trying to tell you that trust, of any form, invested in anything, demands from the object of its attention an emotional fulfillment; a satisfaction that the object was worth the trust..."

"Yes, I think you could say that."

"But apply the same analogy to people, keeping the emotional satisfaction part of it out of the picture -- have you ever asked why you need that emotional satisfaction at all with people and why you would want to trust them?"

"Huh?"

"Say you have a secret. Now you can do one of two things, apart from not telling anyone about it. Declassify it as a secret by revealing it to everyone. Or, confide in a friend, trusting him to keep your secret, expecting him not to divulge it. Now when he keeps your secret safe, you get the satisfaction that the trust you invested in him was not in vain. Or when he doesn't, you get disappointed and lose your faith in him."

"That makes sense, but still don't see what you're tring to say"

"When I shifted the analogy to people, I invalidated a fundamental assumption that is implicit in something like a bike.
A bike, like most machines -- within their working lives -- is not expected to deviate from its expected norm of performance, at least within tolerable limits. And unlike people, it's possible to know everything about a bike, take it apart, analyse it in detail, put things back in place, get it working again, and reinstate your trust in it.
But when it comes to people, firstly, it depends on your own faculties as to how well you can judge people. And even when you can judge them well, it's only with respect to those aspects of their behaviour which you have had an opportunity to observe in the context of certain circumstances. And secondly, people are notoriously prone to change, it's in their nature, it's the only way human beings, being creatures subject to varying emotions, thrive. So when you are not a good judge of people -- I believe nobody ever can be -- and when people are going to change so much, you have two courses of action if you don't want to be disappointed..."

"Hmm which are?"

"...you either trust everyone, expecting nothing out of them, in which case you can no longer call it trust; or you could decide not to trust anyone and not reveal anything at all, thereby totally eliminating the need to want something in return. Either way, don't expect anything out of people."

"But isn't that just being self-defensive?"

"No, it's just being logical..."

"Ah, this sophistry is nice when it comes to trivialities like secrets, but how about a practical situation -- say at work? Don't you need to trust people there?"

"Here again, you are depending on the power of money implicitly. You trust that when you give someone X amount of money to do a good job, you trust the power of money to ensure that the job is done well. Of course, secondary causes like emotional satisfaction, personal growth and loyalty also play a role in the quality of the work done, but that is entirely a personal trait. You as an employer have no control over it. In fact, you have no control over the person's behaviour; he could do an excellent job, or he could contract the mad cow disease overnight, go insane and leave you in a quandary. The only expectation here is what you have out of the money that you offer, and money, like a bike, is a non-living thing whose 'performance' is established, something whose power you can trust not to change."

"But don't employers, who invest so much in an employee, have a right to expect what they want in return?"

"Of course they do, but for that they don't have to trust their employees. Because trust or no trust, the employee doing the job well depends on how much the money means, or doesn't mean, to him."
"So what's your point?"
"That even when it comes to work, there is no point in trusting people, and when I say trust, I mean expecting something in return. Rather, trust your money. If you're going to trust people, then be prepared to be disappointed."

"Ok ... but what about love? What about marriage?"

"What do you do when you love someone? Love itself is just an idea, an abstract one at that. But let me stick to the conventional meaning of it.
Conventionally, when you 'love' someone, you expect a lot in return -- like you want to be loved back, and in certain situations, through the love that you offer that person, you impose on him/her certain implicit demands, like loyalty for example, though this need not be the case always.
And it's precisely because you have invested so much love, so much emotion in that person, and because you want all this (loyalty etc) in return, that you trust the person to accept your love and not to act in a way which would cause you disappointment and hurt. And you do all this thinking you know how the person is on the inside and thinking he/she won't change, when we very well know that they are going to change.
So, when you stick to the conventional meaning of 'love', it means 'trust' which in turn implies you want something in return.

But if you would care to delve deeper into the meaning of love, if you seek the truth, you would learn that you love someone for what they are, for what they stand for, for the way they make you feel in a certain way about yourself, about them and about the world. And not because you want something in return. And when you love someone like that, it really doesn't matter what they do, what they say, whether they hurt you or not, because you would always understand.
This, to me, is unconditional love, the love that you possess for someone without expecting anything in return. This is different from another form of 'unconditional love' some talk about, where you love someone without cause or reason.
The love I'm talking about is the form of love that a father has for his daughter or a son for his mother; you just love them for what they are, you don't expect anything in return. And when you love without expecting anything in return, there really is no need to trust is there?"

"But there is something wrong in what you say ... since you say people change, and if you love someone for what they are, for what they stand for, when they change from what they are and become someone different, someone whom you don't like, someone who doesn't make you feel the same way as they used to before, what then? Would you still love them?"

"I would neither love them nor hate them. I would just become indifferent."

"Even if they were your parents?"

"Even if they were my parents...because that's the only way the love I feel for them would have any meaning."

"How is that possible?"

"Precisely because I didn't expect anything in return. And since I would love them for what they are, when they change into someone different, I can walk away unaffected because I didn't want anything in return for my love for them. I would accept and understand that they have changed.
And I would also accept that my love for them is no longer valid because it was spawned by what I saw in them before; not loving them for what they have now become is the only way I can lend value to the love I would offer to others. And I would not hate them; I would just become indifferent.
And if my love is capable enough, then it would seek those who are worthy of it, those who would change, but only within their tolerable limits, like the bike, those whom I wouldn't have to trust but just love, those who wouldn't expect anything in return from me and just love me for what I am and those whom I would love for what they are without expecting anything in return."

"But by saying that your love for them is based on them not changing into someone whom you would not like, aren't you expecting the 'not changing' aspect of them in return for your love? Aren't you, by loving them, trusting them not to change?"

"Yes, but it is not an expectation in the usual sense; if that expectation is not fulfilled, I would not be disappointed because I don't derive any emotional satisfaction from them not changing. Again, the 'change margins' are different. When someone says 'I love humanity' the 'change margin' is huge; when someone tells his/her partner 'I love you', the 'change margin' is highly specific."

"But isn't that a contradiction? Is love not an emotional satisfaction?"

"No. Love could be called an emotion, but there isn't any satisfaction or disappointment associated with it."

"But isn't love by itself a form of trust?"

"That, my friend, is the point.
Love is not trust. Love just is. It exists for the sake of itself.
Love is based on the 'not changing' aspect. However, I don't have to 'trust'. I don't 'expect' anything which would bring me emotional satisfaction; I don't expect 'anything' which, when I don't receive, would cause me disappointment.
But trust isn't; trust never is; trust needs that something, that emotional fulfillment, in return to sustain itself.
When it comes to filial relationships, the 'change margins' are pretty much non-existent, anything goes, and it takes a great deal before the love -- for our parents, for our siblings -- vanishes. But when it comes to someone we want to spend our lives with, or our friends, we somehow are more stringent; we expect a lot in return, we are looking for someone to trust, looking for someone to hang onto in an ever-shifting world, for someone to vindicate our existence...we are not looking for someone to love, we don't want to give our love unconditionally.
We want security, we are happy to seek refuge in the inferority of need and trust, rather than celebrate the glory of love and the freedom of not having to trust."

"That somehow doesn't make sense to me."

"It never does. All of us have to figure it out for ourelves. We have to, some day or the other..."

"But I still don't think I can trust her..."

"I can only wish you good luck, my friend."

21 comments:

Brood Mode said...

saintly! as always...

The Man Who Wasnt There said...
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The Man Who Wasnt There said...
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The Man Who Wasnt There said...
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The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Here we go...

why the title "Trust"? what specific relation does it have with respect to "Love"?
Can there be a kind of 'Love' without 'Trust'?
(Note: I am deliberately capitalizing the words..)

No the questions are not rhetorical and neither is the answer 'it depends' acceptable.
cos' frankly everything depends! :p

If the answer to the last question is "yes" I have only one more question to ask..
Give me an illustration.

If the answer to the last question is 'no' then we can go on...
Alright so now 'Trust' becomes redundant as it it's efficacy depends on the existence of 'Love'.
It is just an unnecessary attribute.
So lets use Occam's Razor and eliminate it.
We have eliminated one variable.
So far so good.

Alright so what do we need 'Love' for anyway? What exact part does it play in the sociological and physiological context? (I have excluded 'biological' context for
obviously there is only one connotation of 'love' there though different methods...:p)

Existence per se is meaningless. Now how do I go about giving some meaning to my life? mmm...the easiest thing to do is go out and 'fall in love with other person and devote one's own life to it' . (for the argument I am excluding mothers' here (not father) as the reason for their affection could have a scientifc basis..ref:
Selfish Gene theory...though being a non biologist it's debatable..)

' ..But when it comes to someone we want to spend our lives with, or our friends, we somehow are more stringent; we expect a lot in return, we are looking for someone to trust, looking for someone to hang onto in an ever-shifting world, for someone to vindicate our
existence...we are not looking for someone to love, we don't want to give our love unconditionally. We want security, we are happy to seek refuge in the inferority of need and trust, rather than celebrate the glory of love and the freedom of not having to trust....'


Brilliant lines..pretty much sums up "the need for 'love'" though we are no where near to say 'what' it
means. :huh:

I liked the post but it had a quintessential Robert Pirsig approach where the d00d first says
'Quality' cannot be defined in his first book and then goes on to do exactly the same in his second book....

I found it a bit tautological...

so well what's the point..?:)

'...That somehow doesn't make sense to me'.

'..It never does. All of us have to figure it out for ourelves. We have to, some day or the other......'


once we figure out this post would become redundant..if we dont this would be esoteric...

LUCKY said...

nice! love n trust ok.
glory of love? freedom of not to trust?
If the entire underlying basis of all this is selfishness in the sense...
Its more about how they make u feel about yourself. Its how you feel with them around. Then yes.. this is true.

Im not trying to qualify this selfishness ( using this word for lack of better word) as good or bad.. u do things that make others happy 'coz in turn that makes u happy.

All of us are 'selfish' but the extent varies.. and depending on that extent people will resonate with ur post.

Anonymous said...

To the mark!!!!:)
Esp the last parah...

Karthik said...

Nice post ..

consumerdemon said...

ouch.

sometimes i want to kill you, sometimes i think you deserve a medal.

musafir said...

@ brood_mode: "saintly!"?? "as always"?? Now why would you say that? *scratches his head in puzzlement* And is that all? Don't you have something to add considering the nature of the post? *is downcast*

@ girish...!: You just gave a different meaning to 'comment moderation' :D

Anyway, like you said, 'Here we go...'

Before I start, the following definitions would be useful in throwing light on my replies...

Trust: That trait which makes us rely on others; and rely as in expecting something in return for our trust.

It is a cause which has an anticipatory effect (the something) in mind.

Love: It is a state the opposite of which is being indifferent, a state where you are interested in something/someone for the way it/they/he/she is, the intensity of the love varying proportionately to the depth and breadth of the interest it/they/he/she evokes.

It is an effect of the interest (the cause).

Now to the answers...

1)Why the title trust?
I wanted to ponder over the role that trust plays in our lives, when I started off, and to express some of my views about trust.

2)What specific relation does it have with respect to love?
From the point of view of the post, I wanted to bifurcate love and trust -- to divorce the two. This was the result of me questioning an oft-repeated phrase that there cannot be love without trust.

3)An illustration to explain how love can exist without trust:

I love the work of a lot of poets. My love is an effect produced by the nature of their work. I am interested in what they have to say and how they say it. However, I don't expect their work to be interesting to me always; I don't 'trust' them to write in a way that I love always. If they do, well and good. But, if I find what they have to say to be stale, and if I find their style of writing bland, and if it continues to be that way, my love for their work would cease to exist.

When I get on a bus, I 'trust' the driver to take me to my destination safely and on time. I expect the driver to do that. I don't love the driver for that.

4) What do we need love for anyway?
Do we need love at all? I think we need love to keep us from boredom -- to keep ourselves engaged. Or else, all that is left is just to lie down and die. And that requires some courage. Honestly a lot of us would be happy if a meteor were to hit the earth and blow us all to kingdom come!

So, boredom and death or love and life is ultimately the choice that one is faced with. And the lack of courage (in the absence of the knowledge of an imminent extinction level event) has sufficient power to tilt the balance in favour of the latter.

5) What exact part does it play in the sociological and physiological context?
As explained above, it really doesn't play any role other than the ones we want it to assume. A man living alone in an island has no need to lend a sociological context to love; and ultimately all of us are living in islands of our own.

6) What's the point?
Life or death. Existence or extinction.

Now that's that.

I haven't read "Zen and..." (even though I almost bought the book at landmark once!), so I really can't reply to you drawing a parallel between my approach and Robert Pirsig's. But as for you finding the post tautological, all I have to say is this:

There was always only one motif in the post -- that love doesn't expect anything in return whereas trust does. And through the post I am trying to reject a lot of common opinions about love and trust. To do this, I had to answer every commonly held belief through the very words that are used to propagate these beliefs. I guess you read what I had to say quite early in the post, and that would explain why you found it tautological. But I had to go the distance and prove all of what I had heard to be false, for my own sake. Sometimes tautology is useful. Otherwise, you have a lot of following up to do, with a lot more clarifications :)

@ lucky: Thanks :) ... judging from the comments, I seem to have struck a common chord somewhere!

And yes, the 'selfishness' that you talk about is exactly what is underlying this post.

Anyway, sometimes, there is only one way to say a few things, if you don't want to risk undermining their significance.

Love is always glorious; there is a certain intangible pride that love has. And the freedom that comes from not having to trust when in love is what is truly liberating.

@ anonymous: Well, finally -- was wondering where you'd gone :)

Thanks -- kinda knew you would like the last paragraph :D

@ karthik: Thanks buddy! But again, is that all you have to say? *is downcast for the second time today*

@ consumer demon: I was waiting for someone to say just that - 'ouch'... was very conscious of what I was saying, especially about certain sensitive issues, but then, it's all or nothing -- no half-measures here.

And I know exactly what you mean by the 'kill/medal' thing :)

Thej said...

Trust No oNe Mr Mulder ....thats the mantra to live by,,,God all of you'll have so much energy to spend on these philosophical debates .I am a spent force all I want to do is catch the six o clock bus home these days..
But I have this to say
When you Trust,
You start to Deceieve,
You Engage,
In order to Recieve,
But to Recede,
Is the best possible prescription,
To not suffer all this misdirection.

Hehee how much more nonsensical Can I get ???

Thej said...

Uh will correct my errors

Receive*
Deceive*

Ugh pathetic

Anonymous said...

Becoming predicatble .. Aint I??:)

musafir said...

@ thej:

If to recede
Is to cede,
Then I shan't.

Sure there is
In Distance,
Intimacy.

Sure there is
In Pride,
Safety.

Sure there is
In Independence,
Sacrifice.

But

If to recede
Is to cede,
Then I shan't.

"You Engage,
In order to Recieve, (sic)" ... deep, nice.

@ anonymous: Not really, you know. It's just that when I read those lines after I wrote them I could immediately think of people I know who would like it, and you were among those :)

Anonymous said...

is it weird.. getting a post form an 'anonymous' and yet knowing who it is just by their writing?

- meera

p.s. for some reason i'm not ableto signin... it sucks

musafir said...

@ meera: :D -- when in doubt, ask statcounter!

But yes, mostly the typing does give away the identity, if it's someone I know.

Eminence said...

Very nice blog!!! But if u could jus answer me on 2 queries I have
1) Watever said and done, there exists a clear distinction between the love that one has with his parents and what one shares with anyone else. Parents love is something that stems more from an obligatory angle rather than trust. And so equating the two would mean expecting too much.
2) There are s u say a lot of relationships bound by trust that do work out. And even as u mentioned that love leads to trust, sometimes love originates out of trust and then if one were to objectively remove trust out of the equation, how can the love survive.....

consumerdemon said...

happy birthday!!!

dazzle us some more.

Anonymous said...

High time there was another post!
I am bored!

musafir said...

@eminence:

In reply to 1) I get what you're trying to say, but somehow I feel that differentiating fillial love from others is being hypocritical -- there has to be a consistency.

In reply to 2) You get me wrong there. I didn't say love leads to trust. Love can -- and should -- exist without trust. And as for relationships based on trust working out, it depends on what 'working out' means. If it means those involved get what they want because of the trust they put in, then fine, but on the other hand if it means 'love' then that's not the kind of 'love' I believe in.

@consumer demon: Thanks -- albeit late. I'm just intrigued by the platform you chose to wish me :P

@anonymous: There, there, a little patience. Anyway, new post up today :)

Lazy Lavender said...

That one was Goddamn good. Don't ask me if I believe in God. But hey, am gonna link this post in my blog, if you don't mind.