A government which does not trust its citizens to be armed is not itself to be trusted. – Niccolò Machiavelli
What does that mean?
This appears to be another non-quote, as I cannot source it from any of the more reputable quote warehouses. However, it is an interesting point, and I think it is worthy of some discussion.
The history of population control is the history of weapon control. Whether it was ownership of swords in medieval England or the ownership of guns in the Jim Crow [link: ] Southern states after the US Civil War, the whole point of the laws was (and is) to make people helpless.
Trust between the people and the government must flow both ways, or it is a tyranny. Rome became a tyranny of the people near the end, where politicians voted for what would pacify the people (Bread and Circuses, anyone?). Less enlightened regimes throughout history have disarmed their population in an effort to keep them subjugated.
Somewhere between these extremes is the ideal place, where the government and the people live in harmony. Unfortunately, like many “golden mean” situations, everyone has a different idea as to the location of this “sweet spot.” In addition, both governments and societies evolve over time, which keeps moving the target on a regular basis.
Why is mutual trust important?
Trust must be a two way street for it to be of any practical use. Yes, you can show your trust in another person, organization, or institution, and that shows how advanced a person you are. Congratulations. However, until they also show their trust in you, it hasn’t helped much on a practical level, right?
With mutual trust, much can be done, both on the personal advancement and on the practical use side of things. With mutual trust, you can feel certain that they will do what you expect of them, and they can have the same expectation of you.
As you might guess, this requires knowing about the other person(s), organizations, or institutions. It also requires you to be equally forthcoming about yourself, so they may judge you by their standards. It’s hard to trust someone without some knowledge of them, their behaviors, their values, and their priorities, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
As usual, we will focus this blog on how to work on this within ourselves and with the people we know. If you happen to be a Very Important Person within a government, you will still want to practice on a small scale before going big, so even the powerful can (hopefully) get something out of this.
Think for a moment about what your standards are for trusting someone else. Besides having an honest face (or an honest air about them, or some other gut-level instinct judgement), what else do you require them? Is there some indication you look for that shows they can be trusted?
Just as you have standards, so do others, right? What are they? If you don’t know, how will you work towards meeting them? While this method can be used by unscrupulous people (there is a reason there is a category of con artists called “confidence men”), it can also be used ethically by the rest of us.
How hard is it to guess what the other people want? For most of us, it’s fairly difficult, but so is putting such a pointed question directly to them. So PlanB is to talk to others who know the person, or look at what the people they do trust have, do, belive, act, or say.
Next, you need to figure out what they need to see, hear, feel, understand about you, in order to trust you. The answer to this question may be different from the prior question, which was about what they want. This question is about how you prove it, demonstrate it, or otherwise show them that you have what it takes.
The final step is showing or proving your sincerity and committment. Will they withhold trust until they have see an action? You may have a bit of a wait, unless you are sufficiently untrustworthy to set up a demonstration of your trustworthiness.
Some things cannot be rushed. But if you know what you want to do, and have an idea what you need to do, you can get it done in a more timely manner with less effort, right? Just understand that they may not ever trust you as much as you trust them, or want them to trust you. We’re all human.
As for trusting your government, and them trusting you with the means to resist tyranny, that’s a different issue. Start by finding trustworthy candidates and voting them into power (for those who have the option to vote). Then keep track of them and vote them out if they aren’t trustworthy.
For those who don’t get a vote, it is a much tougher way forward. You have my sympathies, as none of your choices are easy. You will have to decide what is right for you, and work to find others in your community who are trustworthy. What you do from there, that is where it gets difficult. It can be anything from Chaos and Anarchy to Gandhi.
But without trust, life will always be rougher than it has to be. Try to be trustworthy, and to surround yourself with trustworthy people.