Monday, June 5, 2017

Trust in a World That Tests Values

Trust in a World That Tests Values
London, Kabul, and Wherever You Are

What holds us together is our credibility. To be credible is to have heart, to take matters to heart, and there to test them in the crucible of experience, in time and trial, in character and value. Testing is trusting. We might call that another test of our character. If you are trusting without tests of character is that credible?

The word "credibility" itself tells us as much, look for cognates in "courage," the French "la coeur," in the deeper meaning of "creed," and then all the way to the Sanskrit word shraddha, too often (mis-)translated "faith." Shraddha doesn't mean "faith" that bypasses our _most critical_ awareness, it doesn't mean "believe me." It means "test me." Shraddha means the trust we put in those persons and values that have earned our confidence, won our deepest sense of fidelity. No one is beyond criticism, none without foibles or faults. But one of life's true tests is to assay words, actions, and histories, to take the tests of trust seriously. Mencken once wrote, "For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together."

While our country faces these tests in ways most of us truly cannot fathom, such matters will surely appear in your own life. One hopes most days pass with bluer skies and gentler breezes but when the storm rages, shake your fist and look inside, look to your heart and your head. Look to history and time and take their measure. Then look beside you and see who is there. If you repeat the inane meme "not to judge" you abdicate your power to draw upon the test of your heart, the power of your reason, your human ability to choose your company.

I have a few friends, maybe far more than I realize, who would leap with me into the fray as if every day were the Battle of the Somme. I hope you do too. When that whistle blows, go with them not only because you trust them. Go because they trust you. One of the most important things in life to realize the value we have to each other: you have earned that place beside each other, you're inside their hearts and they are in yours, and the company we keep makes all the difference.