Friendly Witness: The Spiritual Ground of Quaker Social Action4th mo. 19, 2023 from 1pm to 6pm
Quaker Theological Discussion Group 202312th mo. 1, 2023 at 8am to 12th mo. 2, 2023 at 10am
Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Love and trust are not the same. Jesus loves us. He doesn't necessarily trust us (John 2:24 - 25 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.) Nowhere in the scriptures are we commanded to Trust our Neighbor. We are told to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile but not to trust. In fact we are told to be as innocent as a dove and as wise as a serpent. When people on spiritual journeys are told they are not Christian because they don't love people when in truth it's that they don't trust them and there is a rational reason for not trusting them we are being judgmental, manipulative and divisive. We are called to reason together, not divide and intimidate. When on one hand we claim that those who bully should be condemned and on the other hand bully those who don't trust their neighbor or their government because they see that there are neighbors who haven't been honest about their intentions towards them and their government only tells them what it decides they should know and fails to go the extra mile for its veterans, it is time to take the beam out of our own eye.
Anyone who has been a parent has had to have a talk with a child who has misbehaved telling that child that while they will always love him or her, they can no longer trust them until that trust is earned back.
Love should be freely given but Trust, once betrayed, has to be earned back or as someone once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice shame on me".
It's time to recognize that misplaced loyalties are causing divisions among us and we must reason together to solve serious problems because a house divided against itself can not stand.
I might add that a wise Jewish man is often quoted as saying: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. I wonder how many Masters we are trying to serve?
Lets assume I love everybody, get that out of the way. Now, if I privately choose not to distrust, but rather to test, to verify, that's different and is called "due diligence". To be always suspicious and distrustful is in itself a negative character trait, but to be vigilant and thorough, ah, those are good things to be. English is so tricky that way. If you're against it, it's costly, but if for, it creates paying jobs (family wage even).
If I am unable to verify, I don't think of X as "untrusted" but rather as verified to not perform according to some specification i.e. I trust them all the more. But then a big question is consistency and by definition intervals of time are involved. One "builds trust" or engages in "confidence building measures" (a term from diplomacy).
The wild card people are the ones who freakishly verify, after I've trusted them not to, or, the contrary case, I feel betrayed (so many tests passed, and yet some "Brutus" is among my betrayers, or some "Judas" if we want to sound more Christian about it). Our own body parts may betray us (it seems) when we've trusted them for so long. One feels hurt by a loved one (although "nothing lasts forever" was always the fine print).
Beyond first personal relationships there's judging others we've never met. Someone comes to me asking if Y should be trusted...
Me: to do what?
Someone: live up to [specs].
Me: [proposed test].
In other words, I might project myself as if in an other's shoes and have some imaginary relationship with said other to this other. Such vicarious living (bad) aka empathy (good) all dissolves into "head fiction" pretty quickly if over-indulged in e.g. you'll find lots of little kids full of judgements about this or that puppet or cartoon character, never mind it's all "make believe" at its basis. Adults are not all that different and spend a lot of time in vicarious relationships, as spectators of melodramas and TV news. This kind of "what if" simulation or play acting is actually useful in character development so I'm not saying we should stop doing it. Humans have the gift of imagination, considered one of our most divine attributes by many (including Einstein, a great prophet).
We don't get a Commandment, "Thou shalt not judge!" What Jesus says about this is more like, "The expectation you're setting on ___'s conduct will be back to bite you."
Young children are quite commonly and naturally judgemental; this is probably wired in because they don't have much other defense against people grabbing their toys, their nose, etc. "not fair!" establishes limits on how bad things can get between children, how arbitrarily their parents can keep them from doing what they want, etc. "Who is stronger?" may be the pragmatic way to settle arguments, given that such settlements are self-enforcing -- but it's far less satisfactory to most people than "What's fair?" [And so we often have people with more power paying to have someone dream up explanations for why that situation is only right & proper...]
Anyway, "Treat others as you'd want to be treated" fits squarely into that fairness consideration.
But then, we do like to be trusted. Most people even behave better when they are trusted. But some people are damaged to the point where trusting them just isn't going to work out. Doing so may very well lead them to do something they ought to regret. We don't personally need general rules for whether or not to trust people; we need awareness of the situation and people involved.
(For anyone who wouldn't mind having someone tempting them into misbehaving, this wouldn't apply. That's a pathological condition; most people would.
I think the man who gave us your concluding quote really meant, "Fool you suckers one more time, shame on you!" Which again, is very much a psychopath's mentality at work. It's too bad we need to expect to encounter that mentality, especially in politics.
In verifying whether X is trustworthy in some way, the typical test involves some temptation. Even the good guys use this on TV, setting up some "honeypot" website just to see who tries to hack in i.e. temptation involves baiting (then switching) in many cases.
Temptation relates to greed, in seeming to see a short cut. Better living through chemistry, or fancy real estate deals (no money down!).
All talk of morality aside, the Devil was just on professional business talking with Jesus that day (seemed like forty) in the desert, as this Son of God was about to engage in some seriously risky business. The Devil tempts, we all know that, not to be taken personally.
The tests we fail, and may repent of later, oft involve "succumbing to temptation" in some way, if only glossy advertising. In the movie Ground Hog Day, he gets to take it back and try again. That's a movie about a mortal's attempt at "perfection" -- comical because so impossible yet so believable in this rendering.
When God shows His more human side, as a "jealous god", he also sometimes seems to show remorse. The rainbow, a promise after the Flood, was to not us out again. We'd never change, He knew that now...
"... was to not wipe us out again." re: God's promise. Speaking of Noah's Flood, a segue to my own journal: http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2015/12/timelines-welcome.html
[What I've read about the Black Sea filling suggested that -- while any civilization in the area would have been inexorably wiped out, anyone actually living in it could have simply walked out while it was flooding. It might have influenced later Babylonian myth (or even Plato's weird mention of Atlantis) but what they heard about it wasn't unmixed fact.
In a normal real-world situation, what you want to know is not "If x had the chance to steal the cookies, would-he/wouldn't-he?" -- but "Is x in fact stealing the cookies?" Legally, that's what we, and the authorities, are entitled to know and deal with.
Internet jailbait scams -- The specialty of Faux News when it was first starting (If that's the same organization that was having zoning issues with the City of San Diego back in the early 90's(?)) -- appeal to a sort of right-wing, 'Gotcha!' mentality that seems to promote getting 'something on everybody, and everybody in his place', the better to justify their condemnation and mistreatment.
Yeah good point. Testing of the former kind occurs but such "sting" operations fun afoul with the law don't they. The defense pleads enticement meaning there's no "innocent observer" to give the picture. Sounds more like gangland revenge, or just a dating game, this kind of loyalty testing.
Gets me thinking of Scott Ritter though I have no idea what happened there, records sealed etc. re some chat room meetup with a minor. He was the uber-weapons inspector in Iraq maybe uncovering a little more than we was supposed to, becoming an embarrassment, needed framing. More cloak and dagger stuff. The Internet is rife with such tabloid sleaze.