Driving in downtown Vancouver over the past few days reminded me of something I used to ask my students in a lecture I did about sociality and social integration. I used to ask them whom they trusted. They would invariably point to family or friends or jokingly say they trusted no one. But, of course, we trust all kinds of people implicitly and regularly all the time. Our trust is not restricted to our intimates. It’s tough though because although we consciously and unconsciously think of other people and their effects on us, we deny that they have any control over us. Most of us truly believe that we and we alone are responsible for our lives and actions.

Truth is, we’re so conditioned by the ideology of individualism that we hardly think in social terms at all, about other people and their profound effects on our lives. There was even the spectacle a few years ago of a British prime minister suggesting that there is no such thing as society at all, only individuals and individual action.

Well, we are connected in ways we hardly understand and virtually never attend to and one way we deny that is by labeling other people. We often label people pejoratively in a myriad of ways. We denigrate others and don’t have any sense of connection with them, in fact we are often repulsed by them. Yet every time we get into our cars and drive down a busy street or highway we trust all of them, even the repulsive ones, like they were family.

Just think of the number of people driving anywhere downtown on any given day and there is bound to be a wide variety of people you could think of. There may be commuters, delivery truck and taxi drivers, moms and dads driving their kids to school, police cars and ambulances, service vehicles of all kinds but there could also be murderers, rapists, criminals of all kinds, violent domestic offenders and of course there will be a motley collection of more or less unsavory characters like conservative politicians, bond traders, media hypers, regular bullies and just plain obnoxious people most of whom you would never choose to associate with in any way in any other circumstance. Not all these categories of people are mutually exclusive either. A mom driving her kids to school could be beating the crap out of her kids when they get home in the afternoon and the service van driver could very well be a rapist. We just don’t know. We still trust them.

We trust that if they’re coming at us in the oncoming lane at 60, 80 or 120 k/hour they will not wander into our lane and kill us. Even if we’re going in the same direction as they are, we trust that they won’t wander into our lane and force us onto the side of the road, maybe into an abutment or barrier. Either way we may very well die. Of course there are accidents, but they are unintentional or are supposed to be. We don’t usually ascribe accidents to malevolence. To ignorance and stupidity, yes, but not malevolence.

You may argue that you really don’t trust them. Well, of course you do. You may not like it, but you do. If you drive, you trust. You trust every other driver on the road. I know that’s a scary thought, but that’s the way it is. You trust murderers with your life.

6 thoughts on “YOU TRUST EVERYONE

  1. Roger, this is where people’s philosophy of life has a huge effect on our minds and thoughts. I am typing on my laptop and find that the keys are more difficult to control so I hope I don’t make a mess on this post. When I start each day, I wake with enthusiasm that it is going to be a good and safe day, unless I am in an ongoing trying time at work that lasts over weeks or months (bullying), or a family member is in a real mess, or my mom is very sick etc. Wherever I do, I do have faith that all will go well. If driving, I tend to trust those on the road, but I driver defensively and in the valley, I know backstreets to travel on during rush hours, because I have many near misses and three minor collisions in the past 7 years after never having any collisions.

    It’s interesting that you wrote about this today as I re-read the Craiglist rules to protect yourself when meeting strangers. I invited many buyers to my home to obtain the items I sold to them, because for the most part, I feel safe living here. There are some dangerous people around, but I think in this area, unless you socialize with drug addicts, you are likely in relatively little danger. Downtown Courtenay likely does have more dangerous people and more of a view that people on the street are strangers. I find that people here still say hello to me, even though they don’t know me.

    I was accosted by someone asking for money for food as she was homeless, but something didn’t ring true with her so I said, “Sorry, no” and immediately afterward, a lady her age picked her up in a car so she was gone quickly.

    Next contact via Craigslist is going to be in a coffee shop I decided earlier today. remembering that I was raised to be very careful and to lock my car, which I generally do.

    Ultimately, I my best to use wisdom interacting with strangers, but living in a friendly place like the CV, it’s easy to be laid back and trusting, and I, for one, prefer that.

    For people with faith in God, we tend to feel when our time is up, it’s up, and what will be will be.
    This is not to say we have no responsibility for decision making, but for things beyond our control, we trust God to be in ultimate control.

    Again, as for driving in Vancouver, drive defensively and don’t completely trust other drivers.

    Hope the above is coherent. Night.


    1. My argument is that if you decide to drive you have no choice but to trust people. It’s that simple. And by the way, one doesn’t have to believe in God or gods to understand that when our time’s up, it’s up.


  2. I don’t trust meteorites or thunder-bolts either but I’ve learned not to fear them (or have not learned to fear them properly). Either alternative allows me to live in a degree of peacefulness that may not be properly deserved. What I am perhaps trying to say is ‘the relationship that I have with lethal things doesn’t really rise to the level of what we ordinarily term trust’. I live thinking (not actively hoping) that none of those bullets within range of me do not have my number on them – that those licence plate number zipping by me are not of my end-code (computer jargon). Am I being picky here fighting over the exact meanings of words or is there a valid distinction to be made?


    1. Sorry for the delay getting back to you on this. My point simply is that we depend on other people to behave as we predict they will. We ‘trust’ that they will behave in a way that is predictable, and that goes for whoever is in the other lane coming at us at a high rate of speed. It’s in that way that I use the word ‘trust’. Doesn’t mean we have to like it or that we aren’t afraid sometimes at the way some drivers behave. That’s not the point.


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