Trust M22 言無常信
25/03/2017 “How would you describe trust?” A dull question, huh? Well, the question is not as easy as it might seem at first sight. We are all aware of how tough trust is: it binds people together in times of difficulty, and reinforces our belief in face of turbulence and uncertainty. A relationship with trust and loyalty is unbreakable, as it withstands whatever doubts or suspicions we have in mind like a shield. Having said that, in some sense, trust is rather delicate. It takes months or even years to build and consolidate, yet it can be shattered in a matter of seconds. We are constantly assessing and reassessing our trust in people around us, just to ascertain if they are trustworthy. Trust. What a simple word. And yet its nature is quite complicated, as I have just illustrated. Why is that so? Sociologically speaking, trust is the prerequisite for collaboration among human beings. Without it, society will disintegrate overnight. It is also the necessary condition for every interpersonal relationship, be it family, friendship or romantic love. Following this line of reasoning, trust is probably a result of group selection. From an evolutionary viewpoint, those who place trust in the wrong guy will pay dearly. When we trust somebody, we are making certain assumptions about his personality and predictions of his future behaviour. What if our assumptions and predictions turn out to be wrong? What is worse, we, by definition, cannot know it beforehand. To give an example, Julius Caesar could not possibly have guessed that he would end up being betrayed by Brutus, whom he had adopted and had always trusted, or else he would not have trusted him in the first place. Despite its risks, trust is assumed to be evolved as the alternative is simply infeasible. It is too costly to evaluate whether people will harm our interest every single moment, and it is impossible to reap the benefits of cooperation if you do not trust your partner(s). As a compromise, we trust someone based on his track records. But if there is any indication to the contrary, we will not hesitate to withdraw it. Every trust is, in essence, a gamble. Others’ trust in us is no exception. What better way to thank them than to prove them right?

Caduceus, Medical Society,Hong Kong University Students’ Union

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