By Prof. Antonio Argandoña. I don’t remember which film it was. I do remember that the protagonist was running through the streets, full of panic: everything around her seemed to be an immediate danger. She reached her house, ran inside, slammed the door shut and stood with her back against the door. She sighed, she was calmer: she was safe. Home is the right place to get ourselves together physically, psychologically and emotionally. The four walls protect us, and the people we meet there we can trust.
This is not always the case. Human beings are vulnerable, we know we are vulnerable, and this leads us to mistrust. But a life based on mistrust is much harder to live. In advanced societies, we have many instruments to provide trust: the law, the police, the judiciary, accountable institutions, social rules and routines, that allow us to operate confidently in the street, at work, when we go shopping, in leisure activities… But these instruments are expensive and not always reliable.
In all our social relations we need trust. Trusting others, and making ourselves trustworthy to others, makes it easier to live together. When do we trust someone? For example, why do I trust the public transport bus to get me to my destination quickly, efficiently and safely? First, because it is consistent: it announces its route, timetable and cost, and delivers. Second, because it is capable of doing so: we have ample evidence that the physical, human and organisational resources of this service work, at least with relative efficiency and safety. And third, because it is in our best interests: we expect it to put our interests ahead of those of the company or the driver.
Home is the place we can trust because those around us want our good above all else, they have demonstrated this to us over many years, and because they have demonstrated their ability to care for us, especially when we are most vulnerable: as children, the sick, the elderly, or simply when mistreated by life. That is why the home must be strong. A strong home gives us confidence, teaches us to give confidence to others and teaches us the importance of trusting others.
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