Can I Trust You?

The news this week has been grim and disgusting – American government physicians injecting Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea and two excuses for human beings who filmed a gay Rutgers freshman, put it on the Web and pushed him to suicide.

The chatter has been predictable, blaming everything from reality television’s tendency to make bullying look cool to the ubiquity of technology to millennials’ warped notions of privacy.

Here’s my question – can I trust you?

No, seriously.

It’s foundational. Without it, we have nothing.

Regardless of race, age, education and income, we get up every morning and typically begin a series of interactions both banal and complex: taking the elevator, buying a coffee, filling your vehicle’s gas tank, biking to work, riding the bus, eating lunch, talking to a friend, making dinner, going to bed, alone or not.

Every single activity we undertake relies on a foundation of trust: that the coffee won’t be poisoned; the gas will be good; the bike path hemmed by drivers we can generally rely on to maneuver safely and legally…

If we can’t assume that many, if not most, of our lives will not be tainted by malfeasance, crime, deception, betrayal, malicious intent, fraud, carelessness or worse, we’re toast.

We’d never buy food or drink. We’d never have sex. We’d never take a job, or stay in it.

It’s not about being wide-eyed, naïve, simple or gullible, but being able to trust that the universe is not de facto out to screw us. That at least some of the people we meet, date, work with, share space with and marry are honest, do share our values and are honoring their commitments to us.

Who could have imagined that a doctor would deliberately inject you with something dangerous – when their own Hippocratic oath begins with “First, do no harm?”

Who could imagine a roommate so viciously homophobic that they’d tape you having gay sex and stream it live?

Now we can. TC mark

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  • Molly Oswaks

    Great response to terrible news items.

    • Caitlin

      Molly, thanks.

      Nice to know that anywhere there's a webcam there's an asshole ready to abuse it.

  • a polar bear

    caitlin kelly, kelly mclure, kelley hoffman. jesus christ.
    i didn't see that rutgers thing, but i don't think it's 'viciously homophobic' to film [n-gay people] having sex, it's just 'hilarious,' like: if you're having sex in a location that i could access with my laptop's webcam, i would also film you. i haven't seen it though.
    clinton apologized in 1997 for the guatemala thing.
    i don't know — i'm not american. sorry for this useless comment.

    • SUp

      Dear Polar Bear,

      Sometimes, you're just too funny for your own good.

  • some chick

    I am pleased that I am not the only one who has these thoughts and that somebody else was talented enough to present these thoughts in a completely logical way. Good job, champ.

  • Borbon Kepler

    this reminds me of Pronoia: defined as the opposite state of mind as paranoia: having the sense that there is a conspiracy that exists to help the person. It is also used to describe a philosophy that the world is set up to secretly benefit people.

  • Kayla Ann Stockman

    That webcam gay sex thing makes me want to throw up. How could one human being do that to another? Humanity often makes me want to just curl up in a ball and die, because if people on this planet can film another person having sex with someone of the same gender and damage them so badly that they kill themselves, then I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

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