Loving Communities 2: Trust

Roy Herndon Smith

trust is the womb of being

it opens the window to the cool air

that fondles the desiring body
that warms it

the light touch on the skin

attunes this moment
the stretching self
and the encircling other

to the sparrows’ cheeps

the cars’ discontinuous rushes
the rises and lulls of weeping
the drips of remembered rain

the calls of the mourning dove

recalling the silences of the nights’ caresses
the moans of lust lost in the emptinesses
the falls and crescendoes of all doing undoing all

the endless humming of the pointlessly running air conditioner

the continuous filling stilling unfilling of breathing
the continual sinking of thinking in oblivion
the blinking in and out of space and time

the talk of people walking to work

the rasp of the window
the hiss
of the asp

the mother’s first morning kiss

Trust is the primal form of knowing. Physical entities, such as atoms, rocks, and galaxies, only exist in continuously co-creative energic interactions with all other physical entities in the space-time continuum. Similarly, living beings only come into being and live through continually taking into themselves and expelling into the outside energy and matter; they are wholly interdependent with—they breathe—each other. Sentience, or sensing, the primal form of knowing, begins when an entity constructs a form or “image” in itself that “mirrors” or “echoes” the form of an entity outside itself. Sentience presupposes active openness or receptivity to what is outside or other. Another word for this active openness or receptivity is “trust.”

The psychologist Erik Erikson observes that what he calls “basic trust,” the openness to reality as a whole as trustworthy, is necessary for human life. As sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers have observed, the practices that construct the communities that constitute us as social beings assume and enact this visceral sense of reality as fundamentally supportive of our existence. As these thinkers also observe, the senses, paradigms, theories, and ideas, including those of scientists, through which we know the world and ourselves, presume this sense of reality as having an order we can at least partly understand and upon which we can at least partly rely.

Recognition of what Erikson calls “basic trust” as the ground of human existence highlights community as a category of human reality as fundamental as body and mind. Basic trust and thus human life assume networks, or communities, of interdependent trusting selves and trustworthy human and nonhuman others.