Familiar = trusted?

The German word ‘vertraut’ is a synonym for both ‘familiar’ and ‘trusted’.

We trust whatever is familiar to us. Conversely, we mistrust whatever is unfamiliar. Therefore, it seems efficient to have just one word for both these adjectives.

Choosing to trust merely the familiar was a principle that served us well in the past. However, we live in a world that is changing rapidly. Rapid change, by definition, exposes us to the unfamiliar. New technology, new currencies, new neighbours, new ways of working, new fields of commerce, new companies in the Forbes top 10 – all these have been thrust upon us in the last 20 years. It is little wonder that we don’t trust them.

Today, if when we choose to trusting only that which is familiar, we are condemned to a life filled with prejudice, mistrust, hatred and cynicism. A world that we will hate more every single day.

The 21st century is a good time to decouple the familiar and the trusted. Perhaps it isn’t as efficient for the German language to bundle them in a single word.

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