Let’s have a little talk about trust, shall we?
This is something that tends to be valued, gauged and offered at wildly different ratios by different cultures and people across New Eden, and someone being distrustful is often considered quite negative. Someone being too trustful is often considered naive, but is still viewed relatively positively as if this is the better side of the coin to land on, if you can’t balance it. Of course, the majority of people in New Eden doesn’t really have to spend much time considering this subject, as the stakes they play for in their daily lives are quite low.
Capsuleers however? Now that’s a different matter.
Almost everything we do involves staggering amounts of assets, currency and far more importantly: Lives. People. When we undock, we have crews relying on us to get them back alive. When we go out to hunt, protect, liberate, fight and so on we almost always play for huge stakes in terms of lives. We dive into oceans of blood and only we ourselves come out of it physically unscathed. Even just moving trade goods from A to B is an exercise in avoiding the crosshairs of those who would relieve us of it.
So, from the meagre scales of most who would read this – small timers in highsec, Pendulum Pretense and so on – all the way up to where decisions affect the courses of wars involving thousands and thousands of capsuleers and many millions if not billions of baseliner lives, the stakes are always absolutely staggering in scale from even the most minor of decisions made. When we raise a hand, be it a Venture pilot pecking at a rock or a Coalition fleet commander about to call a cyno to light, people who’s lives are in the balance hold their breath to see where that hand lands. Who will live and who will die now?
So what then happens when two or more capsuleers interact? Their choices, their actions, their interactions, their reactions and even their mere thoughts will shape the lives of baseliners. This is the responsibility each and every freelancer capsuleer in New Eden carry on their shoulders, and which almost all of them ignore entirely.
So, trust. If you are to do something with another capsuleer at your side, it requires trust. If you are to deal with another capsuleer from opposite sides of a conflict, it requires trust. If you are alone, if you are plentiful, if they are known or if they are strangers. Except of course, it doesn’t require even the slightest speck of trust. It requires risk management.
You can never truly trust another human being, especially not another capsuleer, completely. Doubt and care does and should suffuse every aspect of our lives, at varying levels. From not even noticable but perhaps in the back of your mind, to complete and utter distrust. So what you do is put acceptable amounts of assets, money, emotion, self-worth and indeed lives into the hands of another and “trust” them with that. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it does not. Sometimes you are betrayed, sometimes an entire alliance is crippled as a traitor takes control of vital infrastructure and siphons every asset and ISK. Sometimes you get others to do the same to your enemies. Trust… doesn’t really enter into it, in the end.
So then, why is trust such a matter of dispute? Why is it so very aggravating should trust not be forthcoming towards you? Well, it’s pride, of course. Someone else thinks less of you, and won’t invest unreasonable amounts of assets/isk/lives into your hands without some form of reassurance or insurance. This rankles, because it means you are not perceived as the paragon of principle you yourself think you are. Or perhaps it means they see you clearly for the untrustworthy bastard you are, which means you didn’t hide it well enough. Either way, distrust is almost an attack upon you and your character.
… if you’re as weak-willed, vain or spineless that you can’t bear to be perceived as less than the persona you try so hard to cultivate, that is.
Now, it’s publicly known that I personally have fairly severe trust issues. I trusted my parents as any child would, and they betrayed me and it cost me a leg. Whether they did so with good or malicious intent doesn’t change the end result. I naively trusted the ‘noble’ Holder who owned me and my family, and it cost me an arm. I trusted in my fellow freed slaves to have some kinship, and it cost me my eyes. I trusted in a fellow Tribal steeped in hatred for the Empire and it cost me billions in assets. I trusted in a Khanid woman to be my love, my light, my wife and it cost me twelve billion and exile from my clan. Every time I have put my trust in someone else’s hands… it has been betrayed.
Still, I would say that while I may have more reason than most to forgo the notion of trust, this should be the case for everyone.
Let’s talk about a specific example.
I once made a deal with SFRIM about providing highly trained personnel and resources towards a treatment and processing initiative for thirty thousand slaves, freed from a certain clown tent. The deal was, they were to be freed. Not returned to the slave markets of the Empire. During this process, there were several grand claims about certain involved people being very against slavery, truly, really, trust us, but couldn’t publicly speak and so on. Fairly sizable claims, but not substantiated so far.
Of course, that SFRIM then spirited away thirty thousand people, disappearing them from the treatment facilities without any records or clue as to their new whereabouts, didn’t particularly help build up any trust in those claims. There were several quite severe conversations made on the subject, and it took some fairly heavy handed threats of mercenary contracts and war to get the thirty thousand returned. This was after SFRIM repeatedly refused all potential solutions where the well-being and fate of these people could have been confirmed.
This, I have been informed, was a betrayal on my part. I did not trust Imperial Loyalists, who had disappeared thirty thousand of my people and refused to provide any avenue where I could confirm that this wasn’t malicious in nature, and didn’t take them at their word. Finding this cloak and dagger approach, with absolutely no hint of support for their benevolent claims somewhat suspect, i.e. distrusting them… was tantamount to a betrayal in the mind of a certain Achuran.
Of course, it’s not the last time SFRIM members have betrayed deals made. Another time a particular redhead made a deal for transferring a sizable amount of my people to an associate of mine for similar treatment, processing and return to our home and betrayed that too. Instead handing them over to known Imperial loyalists, and then to someone with confirmed Sansha connections. This was, by the way, the time I resolved I’d have to put some actual force behind my dealings with SFRIM.
Now, during these latest events of the Liberation Day celebrations and slaver hunts, once again SFRIM wanted my trust. They wanted to gather as many slaves as possible from these sites, and for me to not hunt them while they did so. It’s not the first time I’ve asked them the question, why would I ever trust them with even one of my people, not to mention hundreds or thousands? They have disappeared thousands of them before, and broken deals more than once. They are stated Imperial Loyalists and supporters of Imperial Slavery. They certainly aren’t stupid enough to believe these ‘unsanctioned’ slaves are anything but entirely sanctioned and part of the Imperial slavery economy.
Tell me, would you trust them with thousands and thousands of your people?
What if I told you that Sansha loyalists are utilizing their alliance’s structures to process almost twenty-five thousand freed slaves? I have witnessed this myself, and the Sansha in question seems to have been trying very hard to be getting under my skin by sending evidence of those people in her “care”. In an ARC facility. Perhaps this is then something worth trusting? No? Of course not.
Of course, these people are then offended. Angry. The Achuran practically froths with hostility and have more than once promised violent retribution and intent to “cut off my wings” and so on. That she’s pitifully incapable of this is somewhat besides the point, but it is so very interesting to me how weak their self-worth and image must be if someone distrusting them on the above mentioned basis is so very insulting to them. Their ‘principles’ dismissed as so much dross.
Of course, said Achuran has also confirmed that their latest IGS dramatics is also an outright lie intended to fool the clown somehow, so have pretty much outright stated that she considers lying and deceit to be entirely above board whenever she desires. I have trouble reconciling this with the idea that her ‘principles’ are to be trusted in any way.
Trust in me. Trust in them. Trust in her. Trust in him.
Trust thousands and thousands of your people, your kin, to these people.
Of course you bloody shouldn’t. It’s nonsensical in the extreme. You shouldn’t trust them. You shouldn’t trust me. I have provided you no evidence of anything I have just told you and decisions made on this basis would have far reaching consequences for lives, perhaps few, perhaps many. Trusting in me would be insane at this point. I have a long history, and while I myself consider my choices to have been honest and true – even if more than once catastrophically in error – you have no reason to trust in any of that. I have Coreli Corporation in my employment history and I have spilled oceans of blood. I have at some point or another pissed off the majority of you out there. Trust me? Don’t be a fool.
Never trust. Not in me. Not in them. Not in SFRIM, in -KYN-, in U’K, in EM, in ARC, in PIE or whoever else.
Because you don’t have to. If you make a deal with me, we will hammer out a way for us both to have insurance. If I betray you, the cost will be commensurate. If you betray me, I will take what is owed by force. If we are both honest, we walk off with the best possible result, both of us.
You can deal with pretty much anyone without trusting them at all. You ensure that a betrayal will cost you no more than you were willing to risk, and that is all that is truly necessary. If I do not trust you, I will not allow you into a position where you can do harm to me or mine. If you do not trust me, you should do the same to me. Do you know what this leads to?
Trust. Because then you finally can.
And thus, I put my enemies into a position where they can’t betray me, and thus I can trust that they won’t.
The fairest and most honest deals you can ever make, is where you both mutually distrust each other, and can thus deal respectfully and with honesty.