I am used to always trusting people. I take things at face value and I don't usually question people when they say something outlandish. With our world as crazy as it is, nothing sounds outlandish to me. Also, I feel I should take people for their word, whatever that word may be.
Not anymore. I've been studying a lot about crime and corruption lately. Whether it's about drugs and prostitution/trafficking and their deceitful webs and ties to the mob or about domestic violence where partners once trusted each other, it all boils down to the same thing. These crimes happen because of trust, because the successful criminal is one who gets their victims to trust them. That's how poor young women and children are smuggled, how spouses can end up dead by mysterious circumstances, and how people can end up cheated.
Even in milder circumstances, this is true. How many times in my young life have I been made the butt of others' jokes, because of my past naiveté? Especially when those others are those I have called my friends? How many times have people manipulated me and lied to me, because I used to believe everything? And what about the one time where the trust I placed in a stranger nearly cost me dearly (and I will go no further with that, so don't ask me)?
I don't want to live in a world where no one trusts each other. I'm not trying to be cynical or tell people not to trust anyone. I don't want to never trust anyone. All I'm saying is, trust but be wary. Follow your gut. If your gut says don't trust, don't trust. Look carefully at character, at actions more than words. Truly evil people will play up their goodness while acting heinous. Truly good people will play up their weaknesses while acting with kindness. Project confidence and don't believe everything at face value. Most importantly, don't lose sight of who you are just because you thought you were chasing something "good".