This is the literal translation of “mo sheasamh ort lá no choise tinne,” the Irish phrase for trust, as noted by Pádraig Ó Tuama.
I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately, partly because every survey and every statistic shows it to be so low. The data of mistrust might be new, but the concept is not: nearly all of our advice and adages caution against too much trust. “Love all, trust a few,” said Shakespeare. “Trust yourself,” said endless others. “Trust but verify,” said Ronald Regan (though it is actually a Russian proverb that he learned during nuclear disarmament talks).
But trust is not the same as foolishness. Trust includes faith, and discernment, and love. Early in my career, a mentor advised me to “presume good intentions.” If I looked for reasons to distrust, she said, there would be plenty. If I started with suspicion, it would be confirmed. If I was attuned to bad intentions, I’d find them everywhere.
This seemed like very bad advice indeed, for a young person just entering the world of finance, where sharpness and vigilance are clear prerequisites for the field. But she was right. If I were sharp but never trustful, simple misunderstandings would harden into meanness. And sometimes they have, much to my dismay.
Of course real trust is earned over long arcs of time, but if our presumption is universal mistrust, if we’re endlessly vigilant, there’s no chance for the earning. Our packs get a little bit heavier, day by day. We carry more and more. And then where do we stand, on the day when our feet are sore?
Dear friends, who do you trust, or what, or where? Let’s start there, and rest our feet.
***You can hear more about this – and many other insights – from the conversation between Pàdraig, Marilyn Nelson, and Krista Tippett at the terrific OnBeing.