Small Town Trust

When I was growing up in a small town, and something was stolen or vandalized, there truly was a rather short list of “usual suspects”. That’s simply because the vast majority of people would not do those things. Law enforcement officers proceeded with those suspects in mind, and usually would locate the culprit. Even they were trustworthy to the point that they would usually admit to the wrongdoing. It was sort of understood. It was also the case that no one was really in personal danger from these people. At least that’s the way I remember it. I never feared those who stole.

How can that be? It’s simple: any misdeeds had to do with property, not people. The people who tended toward illegal activity would not harm people, especially those in our town. There were times when people did fight, but only those who wanted to. I remember primarily fights when both combatants wanted to fight. Seldom was it a one-sided affair. Again, there was an understanding that only those who chose to be rowdy would do so. Otherwise, we would be left alone.

This may seem like a backward way to look at trust, but I remember these practices being consistent, so it was a safe place to be. This has also been called a social contract, something that is sorely lacking today.


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