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Unformatted text preview: like love, faith and hope, is a beautiful word, but
the quality of sincerity, like the other qualities, may be linked with misguided purpose. No one doubts the
sincerity of the Moslem hordes of the eighth century in desiring to redeem the world for Mahomet, but we are
quite as sincerely glad that sturdy Charles Martel smashed them back from Europe. Their very sincerity made
them the more dangerous. In estimating any one's sincerity, it is indispensable to inquire with what other
qualities is this sincerity linked,--to what nouns of activity is it a qualifying adjective?
Honesty, truthfulness and sincerity are esteemed because there is in our social structure the great need that
men shall trust one another. The cynic and the worldly wise, and also the experiences of life, teach "never
trust, always be cautious, never confide in letter or speech," curb the trusting urge in our nature. The betrayal
of trust is the one sin; all other crimes from murder down may find an excuse in passion or weakness, but
when the trusting are deceived or injured, the cement substance of our social structure is dissolved and the
fabric of our lives threatened. To trust is to hand over one's destiny to another and is a manifestation of the
mutual dependence of man. It is in part a judgment of character, it is in part an original trait, is an absence of
that form of fear called suspicion and on its positive side is a form of courage.
Since it is in part a judgment of character in the most of us, it tends to grow less prominent as we grow older.
The young child is either very trusting or entirely suspicious, and when his suspicions are overcome by
acquaintance and simple bribes, he yields his fortunes to any one. (It is a pleasant fiction that children and
dogs know whom to trust, by an intuition.) But as life proceeds, the most of us find that our judgment of
character is poor, and we hesitate to pin anything momentous on it. Only where passion blinds us, as in sex
love, or when our self-love and lust for quick gain or hate has been aroused do we lose the caution that is
the antithesis of trust...
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- Spring '11