Tuesday, January 17, 2006
A Sociology of Betrayed Trust in Outline
When a leader betrays his people's trust, they respond in various ways:
I'm not sure about all of this, but aspects of it seem to show up in all areas of society, from the business and political worlds to fraternal organizations, the church, etc.
- One group responds by feeling the betrayal acutely and painfully. They love their leader and grieve that he betrayed them.
- Within this group, there is a subgroup of those who in their anguish feel as though they can't help but tell others about the situation. They cannot contain their grief, and they want to warn others, so they cry out from the highest places. If they're not careful, though, they become angry, embittered and unstable as they do so.
- Another subgroup for the most part grieves quietly. They can relate to Group IA, but they still have some hope that their leader will confess and make amends, and in the meantime they don't want to make matters worse.
- Another whole group responds by suppressing the knowledge of the betrayal altogether. Like Group I, they love their leader, but in such a way that their world would fall apart if he betrayed their trust. So they pretend nothing ever happened, which affects their old relationships in various ways:
- Group II and Group IA threathen one another's tender existences, so the two find themselves at odds with one another. Since Group II is loyal to the point of living in denial and self-deception, they see Group IA as unloyal and as the ones who have actually betrayed their and their leader's trust.
- Group II and Group IB continue to get along together, but there is a loss of connection between them - a loss of fellowship, community, and friendships - as they can no longer fully relate to one another. Group IB does not want to shatter Group II's glittering illusion, so Group IB keeps quiet. But get-togethers and quiet people who keep their grief to themselves don't mix well.
- A third group asks their leader where to sign up for his new enterprise. They follow him cultishly, idolatrously, to the death, not so much out of trust and love as out of covetousness, greed and envy - out of a desire to live vicariously, like groupies. So if their leader betrayed the trust of his people, they'll betray the trust of their friends. While Group II makes up the majority of the leader's followers, Group III makes up the majority of his inner circle of associates and assistants. However, in his heart of hearts, he doesn't trust either group as much as Group I; those people were (and are) his truest friends.
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