Posted by: tierratemplada | April 1, 2013

On Trust and Paranoia

A Man Deprived of Trust

A man deprived of trust:
eyes that never sleep
turning this way and that
to spot the phantom thief
or betrayer of the heart
that dares beat for no one.

7 days it took me
to earn a tendril of belief,
the benefit of doubt.
And while we sat there soaking in the tube,
I shaved his beard with a straight razor.
He traced the motions of my hand,
knowing well I could slit his throat,
and judging by the eyes –
suspecting as much.
And yet
he did not flinch…

This poem is inspired by a friend of mine, who refuses to trust anyone. Let’s call him Michael. He rents a room and not only does he lock it every time he leaves, he actually locks the door when he is sleeping! He has scolded me on numerous occasions for failing to cover the ATM keypad with my whole body, lest someone sees my PIN. In fact, he advised me not to carry a wallet at all.

But that’s not the end of it. Once, when we were out waiting for a friend of his, who was being fashionably late, he actually said to me that he’s afraid the meeting was staged only so his flatmate could break into his room…I mean, how paranoid is that?

I’m not naive. I know more than anyone that this world is full of crooks. I run a small translation company and in my experience, everyone is always trying to cheat you in one way or another. And yet…in everyday life, I try to keep my paranoia to a healthy minimum. There is a point where a line must be drawn, and Michael here has long since passed it.

What is it with our pathological failure to trust? Precautions are one thing, but in my humble opinion, installing more than one lock on your front door is not only paranoia, it’s a total waste of money. If a thief has the time and skills and audacity to deal with one lock, surely one more won’t stop him/her? Locks appear to me silly, anyway. They are psychological tricks to fool us into a false sense of security. Sometimes they do more bad than good. For instance, my parents always make sure to lock the front door and cover the windows of their summer house. Well, what did the thief do? He broke the door open with brute force. Simple as that. If there weren’t any locks, no doors would be harmed in the process. And he didn’t take anything, anyway. Apparently, he just slept in my parents’ bed. Not much of a thief, was he?

Let me make this clear: I’m not a virgin to being victimized. I’ve been cheated and burgled numerous times. Some cheats I saw through, some I did not. But I still grace people, strangers or otherwise, with the bare minimum of trust. To me – it’s a neccessary risk. Because without trust, we will spend life staring behind us, rather than looking ahead. Sometimes it’s better to just relax and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

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