Why Trust Is Gone

A common complaint today is there is no trust between people, even between relatives or close associates. In our case, we see that Kashmiris began to lose trust at the mass level in the last decade of the 20th century. Why was this so and can we do anything about it? How is it connected to the changing politico-economic scenario of the world?

First we may note that there is hardly any trust in the broader sense of the term though there is much in the narrow legalistic sense. A world made safer by technology and police and jail and what Foucault called Panoptican is not necessarily a world where trust counts. A world that can be blown up anytime by the whim of any nuclear power, a world that spends billions on checking and verifying travel documents, a world where markets are so unpredictable and crises and crashes never too far, a world that is fighting dozens of small wars at the same time, a world where regional, ethnic, tribal, religious identities are always finding it difficult to be recognized or respected, a world where nations, companies, banks, all are geared to increasing their pelf and power and that too mostly at the cost of other competitors or “neighbours,” a world where Capital rules and bends everything, including values people have cherished for millennia, a faceless world where people have always an anxiety about some identity such as the one on social networks, a world pathologically narcissistc about self-image though every institution depersonalizes at the same time as there is no trust in the uniqueness of an individual who is always to be controlled, to manipulated, a world that trusts machines and not men at every counter, a world that trusts neither God, nor his messengers, nor sages, nor wisdom of ancients, not of primordial or archaic traditions, a world that has very little space for poets whom traditionally people trusted as interpreters of gods, a world sure about only the impending doom of cold death or big crunch and that has lost all certainties including the certainty of Absolute and  objectivity that defines man as a creature with intelligence, a world in which education has no use for intangible qualities such as trust, love, grace, compassion etc is not a world where trust really matters.

Given the reign of the Media (that we may broadly define in terms of certain packaging of signs aiming at achieving certain ideological end), given universal distrust in the most influential media houses regarding their claim to objective representation (we read newspapers and watch channels that influential thinkers have charged with complicity with certain power interests), given our failure to clearly distinguish between the real and the virtual, the true and the counterfeit, given increasingly proliferating critiques of the democratic model that implies massive alienation from the governing elite and loss of faith in elected representatives meaning devoicing of a vast majority of people in the so-called welfare state, given a scenario in which a superpower has no moral authority and its discourse of human rights is exposed to be ridiculous for using double standards, and given the role of multinational corporations linked to principle of mistrust of competitor/environment, given seminal critiques of technological culture or trust in technological solutions to essentially human problems from various quarters, given pervasive mistrust in the discourse of development or myth of progress though officially, everywhere, it continues to inform policies at every level, given loss of faith in any major emancipatory narrative promised by politicians, philosophers, scientists, priests, what can be done to reclaim the lost territory of trust?

Could anything short of a project to transform the structure of economy concomitantly with transforming the moral and spiritual consciousness of an individual – in fact the whole orientation of education that currently serves to fashion people for an industrial or post-industrial economy where trust is either superfluous or absent, suffice?

If everything conspires to erode trust, we can’t just wish it back by sermons. If nothing, we can at least strengthen community spaces. That calls for proper planning at many levels. Ultimately it needs serious attention by all concerned if we are not to leave a moral and spiritual desert for posterity.