Who do you trust?


by Frances Edstrom

As I watch my daughter and son-in-law with their daughter, what strikes me is that the baby has such complete trust in them. In fact, at the age of almost three months she even trusts the dog, whose head is nearly as large as she is. What a difficult role being a parent is, to nurture that baby's inherent trust and ability to love, but to teach her how to determine when it isn't safe to be so trusting.

We are all called upon to put our trust not only in those close to us, but in those we don't even know and who may be worlds away. We trust that the medicines we take will not poison us, that the food we eat won't make us sick, that the cars we drive will not malfunction and injure us or someone else. Every step we take is evidence of the need to trust. Our ability to form relationships, get married and have children relies on our capacity for trust.

In college I would laugh at kids who were passionate about the foods they deigned to put into the holy temples that were their bodies, but at a party would eagerly down any beverage or pill or smoke that a complete stranger offered them, trusting the recommendation that it would give them a great high. By the time my kids were in college, I prayed they wouldn't be that stupid. I hoped by that time their experiences had taught them when to trust and when to be skeptical. Wishful thinking, I am sure.

My mind preoccupied with such thoughts, I have been reading the news lately with trust in mind. I feel sorry for the owners of restaurants that are making headlines because their food made people sick. The E. coli outbreaks had nothing to do with the restaurants, but apparently their suppliers, that they trusted to deliver safe ingredients.

I am heartened to read that the number of cases of breast cancer has radically diminished, but at the same time am troubled. Experts say the decrease in the occasion of breast cancer is due to the fact that fewer women are taking hormone replacement drugs. I took hormone replacement drugs. I had breast cancer. Could I have avoided cancer?

Surgery? Chemotherapy? Radiation? The heartache I put my family through? Was I too eager to trust in a drug to solve what was really a minor discomfort? I thought I had learned something since my college days in the groovy sixties.

Learning when to trust and when to discriminate is not an exact science, relying as it does on the vagaries of human nature and fate. Even Superman had his weakness.

But still I pray that the many adults who will be my granddaughter's guides through life can lead her safely along the path, teach her that both trust and discrimination are needed for happiness and survival.


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