Vol.XIX No.I Pg.1
March 1982

Believing In Others

Robert F. Turner

An early Greek school of philosophers taught that virtue is the only good, and that its essence lies in self-control and independence. But their "second" or "third" generation became violent critics of social customs and current philosophies; so the name "cynic" came to mean a snarler, one who believes human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. Cynical implies a sneering disbelief in sincerity, a distrust of others.

I am not unaware of society's immorality, nor of the need to be on one's guard lest one be "taken." Good business practice demands investigation, analysis, and the records that protect the innocent and widows. But there is something inherently wrong with an attitude of general distrust. When we can no longer believe in any one else, it may be we have too highly appraised ourselves. Extensive distrust suggests our own familiarity with the "temptation." (It takes a thief to catch a thief.)

Some may call it "gullible" "simple" or "naive," but we find much to admire in that person who believes in his neighbor, who lives in trust, who is optimistic about the future. Love "thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. 13:5-7).

Trust in others tends to gender an honest response — to bring out the best in them. Optimism opens doors forever closed to the pessimist. The cynic sours in his own juice, while the optimist improves qualitatively, even if there were no other credits. Of course I refer to genuine optimism, not a "policy" of "positive thinking" to be adopted for personal gains.

Self-esteem, confidence, and what some Kentuckians call "pride," spring from our belief we are "God's children," and "God don't make no trash!" While we believe others are O.K., we can believe in ourselves without harm. But watch out for the attitude that "others are Baalites, and I am left alone." Righteous judgment does not condemn until fruits demand it; and even then, encouragement may correct what snarling will only drive away.