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Riding the Winds

There is a type of music that lets your mind ride on its tail-winds. Up and down, slower, faster, a pause… Slightly unpredictable, so you cannot drift into a thinking mode; you do not have much choice but follow its movement. Classical music is sometimes like that; jazz is even closer to what I mean. My daughter made me listen to the music of St. VIncent in the car the other day. Although I cannot say that I liked it much, I appreciated its musical patterns, the pauses and movements through which small patches of emptiness can be glimpsed. The mind can glide on its winds rather than ride on the winds of its own thoughts.



‘I trust this person’, we can often hear people saying, or even, ‘I trust people’. For some time now, I have been wondering what that might mean. When we are young and if we are of a good character, we trust people because we think that they are just like us. Later, when we spend enough time meeting all sorts of folks, we become more careful about it. My dad used to say, ‘Don’t trust anybody unless you have eaten a whole sack of salt with them’. Nowadays, I consider this a wise saying. At the beginning of any friendship, people usually are light and interesting, they promise a lot. A few months down the road, or sometimes even years, the excitement of the novelty wears off, and so do the promises. 

Sometimes people are even in a relationship for many years and all of a sudden, they find out that their friend or their lover has had a secret life. I have heard of stories like that in real life. In cinema, however, my favourite one is in Total Recall, when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character finds out that his marriage was totally fake and his woman was actually just a spy for his enemies. ‘Consider that a divorce’, he says in his charming Austrian accent, and shoots her.  This looked like the shortest divorce of all time and a rather painless one, at least for one of the parties involved.

Trust, however, is the only thing that makes a society possible. Most of the relationships in this life are based on trust. We trust that the taxi driver will take us to the destination we have specified; we trust that the delivery boy ringing the bell will be doing just that, delivering our order; we trust that the bridge on which we are driving was built well and will not collapse under us. We trust our friends that they will keep, whatever we have told them in confidence, for themselves.

When my trust was betrayed once in my childhood and I told my mum, she just said, ‘There are such bad people in this world’. And that was that. She didn’t try to find the reason, It was just a matter of fact. Nowadays, I have the feeling that we somehow try to blame ourselves. What did I do wrong? It appears to me that we have been sold a lie. It is the fairy story that everybody is good in this world and if we only can do the right thing or say the right thing, they will be just fine and will behave according to our expectations. Trust is exactly that: the expectations that we have about other people. We expect others to do whatever we think we would have done in their place. And this works more or less fine when people in a given society have the same values, not just the same laws. The law can stop certain behaviour through fear of punishment, but cannot build the moral values of a society. If people don’t believe in the same things to a large extent, they will not be able to trust each other.

My mother was right. There are bad people in this world. However, to know who they are, we need first to agree on what is good and what is bad. Unfortunately, with the decline of religion in the West, such an agreement will be a difficult process. 

So for now, my advice is: trust no one, until you are certain that you both have the same moral values. The law, hopefully, will be able to protect you for the time being.


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