AMA: Why do you think people are afraid to live free and trust one another?

A new question for my Ask Me Anything (AMA)! This person wrote the following message about the inability of many people to live free and trust people:

I love your life and the way you see people. Why do you think people are afraid to live free and trust one another?

My response:

Oof, that’s a difficult one. I’m not sure if I know much about living free. I don’t really feel free. But I’m also not very focused on the pursuit of freedom.

Trusting people is one of the most difficult things to achieve and maintain I guess, and one of the easiest things to lose or break. It’s a huge investment of energy and time to trust someone, so we choose not to trust each other. It’s easier this way.

I’d like to see trust on a sliding scale; you might trust someone a little with something specific, but not with other things. You might trust someone intellectually but not emotionally, physically but not socially, intimately, etcetera. That’s what I hear when someone says “We don’t have that kind of trust between us.”

When hitchhiking, once we’ve established communication, I trust my drivers to bring me from A to B as discussed. That doesn’t mean I also trust them enough to hold on to my passport or know where I live (hypothetically, if I had a home, you know). If I’m feeling comfortable during the ride and think it’s appropriate, I might take a nap without feeling like they might hurt me, drive in a different direction, or otherwise violate the trustedness I’ve bestowed upon them before my nap.

The same goes for the drivers. Some prefer not to exchange names because they want to vent and rant or tell a secret. They can trust me enough to hold their baby because of the assumption that I like babies. They can confide in a stranger better with that secret than someone close to them because of the assumption that we’ll never meet again. I understand that. That’s why I think there’s often an inherent need for meeting strangers from time to time; they fill a unique and very flexible niche in human needs. It’s hard to define why it’s necessary.

I don’t always get it right and they don’t always get it right; sometimes they thought it was okay to be homophobic and Islamophobic around me. Sometimes I misjudged how they thought of me or made an assumption about their life that was very far off. Do I trust my drivers? Yes and no at the very same time. I feel like I’ve found an equilibrium of trust that I can dose and maintain without being apathetic or getting hurt when that trust breaks.

Hopefully that was understandable! I think a lot about these topics, but very passively, because it’s a daily occurrence while hitchhiking. It was nice to try to put it into words. Thank you for that.

Peace, love, and tranquility,

Iris // Mind of a Hitchhiker

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