Time and time again as I reflect on matters in my own personal life and the larger context of my life within my time and situation, I come across the problem of trust  as it rears its head over and over again as a central problem in situations that appear to be hopelessly without remedy, or at the very least without any sort of quick solution. Despite its massive importance in life, trust is not an explicit subject in very many songs, although it does happen to be a major and ironic part of the 10,000 Maniacs song “Trouble Me” cited in the title of this entry:
“Lastly, let me know what I can mend. / There’s more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see. / Trust is what I’m offering if you trouble me .”
Given the difficulty of trust, why would Natalie Merchant offer trust for being troubled? A bit of context, such as that provided above, would help. For Ms. Merchant, a sweet and good friend who felt comfortable with being honest about concerns and problems and burdens and sharing them. I have not tended to think this way in my own life. Perhaps, given the rather heavy burdens and rather serious problems that need mending, I have tended to feel either more prickly or more ashamed of such matters than calculated in viewing my scars as a way to easily build trust. Given one’s situation, one has to secure trust in the best way possible. In some situations, that trust can best be built by laying one’s concerns and personality openly, while in other cases a bit more caution must be shown. Much depends on circumstances. Here, we see that because there was a sweet and close friendship built, more trust could be built through candor and open honesty.
In some cases, trust is definitely not being offered for trouble. Some people do not wish to be troubled at all. It is rather shocking the low level of trust that exists in some contexts. For example, some people have a great deal of trust in certain information sources and will not trust or even pay any attention to any information that comes from other sources. In general, as someone who is highly skeptical, I tend to find a great deal of trouble in sources in general, without a way to resolve such difficulties easily. Given the fact that accounts tend to be far more closely related to worldview and philosophy than they are to any actual facts, it is a difficult matter to triangulate matters to achieving something approaching a reasonable solution. When there is no trust and no common ground in terms of facts and belief systems to work from, making a situation better is a very daunting task.
How does one build common ground in an atmosphere where surrender is considered the only reasonable solution? These are not easy matters to achieve, and one sees them over and over again. When one thinks poorly of others, and when the behavior of others appears to validate those poor opinions, and when discussion is combative and full of disrespect, building trust is difficult. Some people think that they are right and are so unwilling to accept that they are mistaken, or any sort of evidence or argument that would suggest so, that no humility towards others or one’s own fallibility is shown. For trust to be built, we must care more about respect and love and concern for others than we care about being right in our own eyes. It is not an easy matter, and certainly not an easy matter for me, to succeed well at conveying that care and concern for others in situations of great stress and disagreement and conflict. I have gotten a lot of practice at it, and I suppose with time I might get better at it. I certainly hope so, at least.
In the meantime, I suppose I can treasure those dear friends of mine, young and old, who do not mind if I trouble them with my concerns and the history of my immensely complicated life. Perhaps with time and with the right circumstances, as well as a great deal of effort by myself and others, trust can be built broadly and deeply enough to make life a great deal more pleasant and enjoyable for me and for everyone I come across. All too often in life, our own anxieties and concerns provoke anxiety in others, instead of the desire to help in mending what is broken and restoring what has been stolen. And even if we have that desire, it can be hard to do it. At least if we have the desire, with time we might develop the skills to accomplish what we are setting out to do, whether that is building trust or helping to encourage our sweet friends through whatever they have to deal with. And like Natalie Merchant, I too have a great deal of concern with those friends of mine who trust me enough to trouble me, so long as they do not torment me.
 See, for example: