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We have tossed our trust away

Even as we clamour for goodwill and compassion, we are steeped in foreboding.

By Asha Iyer Kumar

Published: Tue 23 Jun 2015, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:15 PM

The other day on my way back from a nearby mall where I had gone by walk, a motorist pulled over and asked if he could drop me home. Considering the brutal sun and the bags in my hand, it was a good gesture from a considerate fellow human being. Nevertheless, I turned the offer down despite his insistence, not only because I was only a few paces from home, but getting on a car with a stranger is the dodgiest thing a woman can do in these times. Yes, even in a country where safety is almost a given.

Back home, when I related the incident to my husband, he asked, “What was his intention?” echoing the thought that had been bothering me since that brief encounter on the street. We didn’t discuss the tacit answer we had on our minds. It was self-evident from our silences. That we had come to a state where even the most basic act of kindness is suspected to be spurious and laden with evil purpose was hard to swallow. Yet the truth of it was undeniable.

With values eroding and human beings growing more vicious, trust in mankind has hit the nadir and it simply doesn’t augur well for our species. From political leaders to corporate bosses, from kinsfolk to our remotely associated neighbours, we have grown suspicious of them all. We vote in the induced hope and not in an unshakable belief of having dependable people as our rulers. Our pessimism and doubts about them is here to stay. Employees are increasingly becoming wary of their bosses, and the halcyon days of trust and mutual understanding have given way to a period of indifference and acrimony. There is no love lost between people; only a pervasive feeling of everyone out to get the other prevails.

The edginess that currently plagues our lives at every turn is an offshoot of this deep mistrust, for fear and suspicion are mutually inclusive and all consuming. It permeates all realms of our consciousness and affects all spheres of human activity. It cripples our sense of humaneness and fails us in our eternal search for truth. It is a paradox that even as we clamour for goodwill and compassion, and call for wars to end and to foster peace, we are steeped in foreboding, and view one another with great circumspection. Fear is our primary emotion today, brought on by incidents happening in our immediate and remote quarters. What a pity that the deviant ways of some men yonder can influence our perception of those around us! I am alarmed at our assessment of anyone being capable of killing, raping, swindling and destroying our lives, despite our inner voice provoking positive thoughts of fundamental human goodness.

Despite our condition slipping from the dismal to the dire, we are doing nothing to establish our veracity or to instill confidence in our fellow human beings. Man’s relentless pursuit of individual betterment has made him compromise on truth, trust and integrity. What seems impeccable on the surface reveals layers of deceit beneath. His self-centred exploits have obliterated any notion of the other man’s well being. And his wild quest has pushed him into an existence closer to pestilence, with nothing honourable to offer to the world than a deeply divided society filled with skepticism.

I wonder if this human debauchery is recently acquired or if we have become more cognizant of it now with new age communication channels. W. H. Auden perhaps nailed it down when he said, ‘May it not be that, just as we have to have faith in Him, God has to have faith in us, and considering the history of the human race so far, may it not be that faith is even more difficult for him, than it is for us.’ Really? Were we always so trustless to be condemned to eternal cynicism?

Asha Iyer Kumar is a writer based in Dubai.

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