Learning to Mistrust
New life knows nothing. We arrive innocent, free of intent, open to everything. The gradual process of learning begins when newborns instinctively react to hunger. The quest for survival is exhibited in the relentless need to feed. The healthy newborns miraculous ability to make his needs known by vocalizing begins with the first cries at birth. All new parents know the joy, the relief, the love, at that first glorious cry announcing a new life. This tiny new person is just beginning his journey in learning to trust. His needs met, time and again, or not, he will form the ability to trust, or not.
My beginnings were idyllic. Treated like gold, handled with kid gloves, my sister, brother and I never went without. As a result, even today as a mature adult, I am shocked at the wrongs committed indiscriminately by so many, the violence and the maliciousness conceived and perpetrated against humanity. The news appalls me with brutalities against man and beast beyond the scope of my imagination.
Oh, grow up
Nature and nurture combined to give me a special affinity for the underdog. My father's kindness and example of "there but for the grace of God, go I" was evident in his path on this earth. He wasn't treated as kindly as he treated others, but he remained generous to a fault until the day he left this earth. I miss him, but still feel his presence, especially through trials and difficult times. The advice he occasionally gave me revolved around the theme of "getting thicker skinned". He worried because I took everything to heart. I adopted the idea that everyone else was always right and, if there was something wrong, it was with me. I believed everyone was as reliable, loyal and trustworthy as my parents. I had learned the lesson to trust too well.
I approached life as challenging, but charmed. I have often been the recipient of comments about my "great attitude" and my ever present smile. But, there is no magic in the ability to smile when everything goes your way. I look at it now as an unawareness, selfishness even, sailing through life, not really committed to anything, keeping loses at bay through minimizing the importance of events. But now, well into middle age, and having personally experienced what many have lived with a long time, I am ashamed at my uninvolvement, my inability to see clearly the intolerance, the hate, the pain that man inflicts upon man.
When I was in school learning about the Holocaust, slavery, the American Indian and the atrocities inflicted on man, I shielded myself from the reality as if it was just a story. There are lessons to be learned by someone else's reality. It is inhumane and dehumanizing to turn a blind eye to ugliness that has, or will affect the world. The acknowledgement of these realities, events that destroy lives and shape the future for all, must be felt, studied, and understood to facilitate change through empathy. We are our brother's keeper.
As an adult, I discovered a voice through many published "Letters to the Editor" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I felt more vital than any other time in my life. I had "plugged into" life. I was learning to mistrust. No longer would the promises at election time be taken at their word. I was learning to trust myself.
Slavery in America
History repeats itself
The news today, October 1, 2010, does not bode well for confidence in the American government. The discovery of these diabolical, damaging facts illustrates one more example of the well-earned mistrust the public has for the government. It is difficult to have faith in our democracy and it's leaders in learning of the desecrating victimization of unknowing, Guatemalan prisoners and mentally ill, who were subjected to secret medical experimentation. The story reveals that between 1946 to 1948 nearly 700 victims were injected with STDs, gonorrhea and syphilis, all over their bodies, including directly into their spines. Some of this experimentation involved Guatemalan prostitutes, who then took the diseases into the community. Some were treated for the diseases, but many were left to suffer the consequences without knowledge of having been intentionally infected.
These crimes against humanity, which were carried out secretly by the U.S. government, are being reported today by the media for what they are, completely reprehensible and indefensible acts. Senators Hillary Clinton and Sebelius have been handed the task of delivering the apologies. NBC Chief Medical Correspondent and reporter, Robert Bazell, states the mission is to never repeat this type of unethical medical research again. Accountability and resolution involving compensation are steps toward regaining face, but the damage is done and cannot be reversed.
It is understood that these actions, committed in 1946 to 1948, were without merit and were hidden until their recent "serendipitous" discovery. Aside from the insipid, understatement that the goal is to never repeat this type of medical experiment, this uncovering illustrates the rationale for the mistrust and fear of our government. Through the years, the hidden agendas of the powers that be have taught us to mistrust. Each atrocity brought to light, and I believe there are many more yet unknown, casts aspersions on our view of our government. Rightfully so, and so it goes....it seems the government has not yet learned a fundamental truth....that trust is earned.