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?
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.