It is difficult to experience true well being without some degree of trust in one’s life. Determining who can be trusted and to what degree is a lot more complicated than a slogan from the 1960s.
In the 1968 film, “Wild in the Streets”, a young adult rock star, driven by ambition, self-righteousness and political manipulators, takes advantage of the energy of his era and a rising tide of youth empowerment, changes his name to Max Frost, and is ultimately elected President of the United States on a platform of neutralizing the influence of older people. A popular slogan of that time, “You can’t trust anyone over 30”, is pivotal in his campaigns.
People over ‘˜that age’ are neutralized with drugs to keep them passive and impotent in the political arena.
By the end of the film, predictably, Max himself, is seen as “old guard” by the newly enfranchised even younger teenagers. The awareness that he was become one of the ‘˜them’ dawns on him in the film’s final scenes.
As silly as that may sound now, we actually believed the premise. The film simply capitalized on a then exploding social phenomenon wherein young people were asserting the right to suffrage at age 18 only to then encounter others who felt it should be lowered to 15 and then to 14. Ultimately and quickly, Max finds himself about to be swept into the ‘˜old’ category by those still younger.
A fantasy scenario but a telling reflection of the beliefs somewhat prevalent among the young in that era. What we have come to realize since then is that age was not the important variable in determining a person’s trustworthiness, it was (and is) their character and personal integrity.
There are very old people who offer and inspire trust and young ones from whom we feel the need to protect ourselves. It was not about age at all. It never was.
Trust is something earned. To expect it to be presumed and granted by virtue of age, authority or position is both naÃ¯ve and potentially dangerous. Trust is not inherited, though the famous successful families of the world would have us believe so, nor is it a commodity that can be purchased by the highest bidder- as some countries and stock market brokers have tried to demonstrate.
Deciding who can be trusted and with what is one of the most important and consequential decisions any of can and will ever make. Make it carefully. Nothing hurts quite as badly as a trust betrayed. For most, trust betrayed is trust lost or compromised forever.
The experience one acquires through aging may lead to greater trustworthiness, but not always. There are certainly bad old people in the world, too. Sadly and humanly, the same can be said of the young. Age, with the 1960s so far behind us, never really was, nor is it now, the issue.