Trust Is Not Demanded. It Is Earned

When people in authority speak to their subordinates, they expect an ultimate trust. If their words are a statement, they want others to believe them right away. If it’s imperative, they expect nothing less than a total obedience. If they make a promise, they mean to attain absolute loyalty.

If the subordinates show any sign of disbelief or mistrust, they are met with very harsh threats and sometimes even severe physical punishment. Punished for refusing to trust the authority. The power might be have even invented some draconian laws that they believe protect them from people’s mistrust. Some of these laws are presented under the disguise of sedition, felony or incitements against the so-called legal authority.

But trust – as love – is an invisible creature. Yes, it’s a creature, which means it’s created. But its creator is visible. Tangible. Reachable. Questionable. In the process of creating this invisible creature, a visible creator has a very big task to perform. For the process to work, it must come from the womb of integrity.

In my mother-tongue, Kiswahili, we have a word ‘staha‘, which literally means respect. But actually we have a word that says about respect – hishima. Therefore, we have two words that some people might think refer to one meaning. Synonyms as they call it in linguistics. But in a real sense, these are two different things. Staha might be what English people call integrity. That inner respect that someone has in and for himself and that they offer to others. Hishima, in contrast, is the respect you gain from others. We have another word that acts as a bridge between the two. We call it ‘adabu‘ – manners.

Therefore, the whole process of creating trust is being patterned with elements of integrity, respect and manners. Those whom we trust and mistrust are people like us. Whichever way we choose to show them is a direct result of something. Actually not just one thing, but rather a string of things that cultivate it in our hearts.

Those who want our trust, they should not demand it from us. In other words, they don’t come to us and ask to trust them. They do things, they say words, they show signs, all that make us trust them. It’s their doings that make them earn our trust.

But they should, first and foremost, have integrity in themselves. Wawe na staha. Wajisitahi. For without which, they don’t have the moral authority to seek anything of the like from outside. Once their inner part lacks credibility, they will have nothing to offer to the outside and, hence, nothing to receive from the audience.

They will end up threatening others whom they consider powerless, forcing them to believe whatever they say, but as trust and love are invisible creatures, they will never have it. The more they force others to trust them, the more they destroy that little trust that existed between them.

The best way to be trusted is to earn the trust, not demanding it.