1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land.
2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.
It takes a long time to build trust, but it can be destroyed very quickly. In the passage above, Moroni describes a time when trust had been almost completely annihilated among the Jaredites. Everyone had to keep their possessions in their direct control, and no one could borrow or lend because no one had any confidence that their possessions would be returned. It’s not hard to see how this lack of trust would crush a civilization.
There are two elements in a relationship of trust:
- We prove ourselves to be trustworthy by making and keeping commitments consistently over time.
- We choose to trust others whenever we delegate a responsibility, make an assignment, or entrust our possessions to others.
Every time we choose to trust another person, we are taking a risk. Some level of caution is obviously in order here, but some level of generosity is also required. Because we are dealing with fallible mortals, our trust will at times be betrayed. But if we want to avoid degenerating into the situation described above, we will need to continue to take the risk of giving others our trust.
On one occasion, Howard W. Hunter agreed to sell some property to a close friend. The friend took possession of the property but then refused to pay him. He later said, “Out of this experience I learned a great lesson not to rely on an oral agreement or to trust a fellow man.” Then he added, “Regardless of this lesson, I have chosen not to follow it” (Eleanor Knowles, Howard W. Hunter, 119).
There are times when we cannot and should not trust other people. But there are also times when we can only build trust by taking a leap of faith. We must sometimes believe in others’ trustworthiness before it has been fully proven. Today, I will strive to demonstrate my trustworthiness to others by conscientiously fulfilling the commitments I have made. I will also choose to have confidence in others, knowing that a peaceful and happy society requires people to take the risk of trusting one another.