Who do you trust?

A person whose opinions I respect and admire wrote this:

I recently had dinner with some liberty-minded friends. The evening was wonderful and each of us were coming up with ideas about how to promote liberty among the general public. Some of the ideas were political, while others were not. One of the questions that got asked was: Who do you trust?

This was a surprise to me. My answer is to trust every one until proven wrong.

I wrote this in response:

Trust of others must be tempered by the wisdom that human nature is a mix of good and evil. People are not “basically good.” Humans are fully capable of benevolence or vile wickedness at different times under various conditions.

The people of Jedwabne, Poland had lived amicably with their Jewish neighbors for decades but on July 10, 1941 the non-Jewish half rose up and murdered the Jewish half. Most of the Jews who were murdered had thought of their non-Jewish neighbors as good people. They interacted with them, traded with them, and they trusted them. They ended up dead at the hands of those “good people.”

Why did those “good people” do it? Simply because their government let them know it would be acceptable for them to do it. The Nazi government did not force them to do anything, it merely gave them permission. Under that condition these good people, en masse, had no inner moral compass to dissuade them from evil and point them to the true North of beneficence . A theretofore non-violent community were fully capable, with little more than official sanction, of carrying out a brutal slaughter.

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