Do you trust me? Do you trust my staff? Do you trust your children? Your neighbours? Your friends? I hope you do. But for what reason? For example, if you were to trust me to fix your car, your trust would be misplaced because I have no idea what happens under the bonnet of a car at all! Making such a leap of faith and trusting someone else is one of the scariest things we can do and yet, every day you trust us at Heathcote when you hand over your children, to look after them ‘in loco parentis’, to nurture them and keep them safe as well as provide them with every opportunity we can to learn, discover and flourish.
Earlier today, I googled the word “trust.” It was a sobering experience. I was more than 20 pages into the results before meeting a single instance of trust in the sense of belief in something or someone. There were all types of financial trusts, businesses with “trust” in their names, companies eager to help you set up personal trusts, charitable trusts of every kind—but nothing about putting your trust in anything or anyone.
Trust is a feeling of security that you have, based on the belief that someone or something is knowledgeable, reliable, good, honest and effective. Trust is fundamental to life. If you cannot trust in anything at all, life becomes intolerable—a constant battle against paranoia and looming disaster. As we grow we learn to trust our instincts, to know when not to trust. Only yesterday a neighbour told me how they had nearly trusted someone on the end of the phone asking delving questions about their bank account and on the brink of being tricked by some fraudster, their instinct cut in and they realised it was a scam.
I can remember teaching the game “trust fall” to my drama students many years ago. It’s a simple game. All you have to do is stand in front of someone, with your back turned, your arms stretched out to each side. Then, without looking or moving your feet, you fall backward, trusting that the other person will catch you before you hit the ground. Without total trust in your partner the game cannot work.
But for some of us that kind of trust, that absolute conviction in someone that they will do what they say they will, is not easy to find. It isn’t a quality that is easy to teach either because the amount of trust you extend to someone should be based on the other person’s character, competence and consistency. Learning to measure another’s character, to decide whether you can believe in them, is a skill that seems to get more difficult as we get older.
Take this story for example:
A man had been on a long flight. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign, “Fasten your seat belts” flashed on. Then, after a while, a calm voice said, “We shall not be serving drinks at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened.” As the man looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, “We are so sorry that we are unable to serve meals at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us.” And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the plane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash. The man confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. As he looked around the plane, he could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm. And then, suddenly, he saw a girl to whom the storm meant nothing. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat and was reading a book. Everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm, when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvellous child was completely composed and unafraid.
The man could hardly believe his eyes. It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, he lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. He asked her why she had not been afraid. The little child replied, “Sir, my Dad is the pilot, And he is taking me home.”
Every day at Heathcote our children trust us to make decisions for them, look after them, care for them and get them ‘home’ safely. How very lucky we are to share that special bond.