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Trust, but Verify

I saw a post about common human sayings being weird to aliens, and another post about the concept of being a “rules lawyer” and finding loopholes and adding fine print being foreign concepts to aliens, and it made me think of one of my favorite axioms, “Trust, but verify.”  A Russian proverb made famous by Ronald Reagan in the context of nuclear disarmament, it is a pithy distillation of a very real trend among humans.  If a prisoner behaves well and presents themselves as worthy of trust, we will release them, but only on the condition that we verify, via check-ins with a parole officer.  

On a personal level –

“Human-Clark, why are you installing a camera in your room?”

“Well, the doors on this ship don’t lock.”

“… and?”

“I need to make sure no one messes with my stuff.”

“But… every member of the crew has sworn the same oath, to support and respect each other.  No crew member would take from another!”

“Well, yeah.  I’m just making sure.  Can’t be too careful.”

– and on an intergalactic level.

“Ambassador Human-Terrance, why are human ships in these systems?”

“They’re making sure the unaffiliated systems aren’t building their navies.”

“Ambassador, even the unaffiliated systems signed the Polaris Accords.”

“I understand that.  We’re just making sure they abide by it.”

“Have you received intelligence that they are violating the treaty?!”

“Not at all.”

“.…?!?!?!”

So that’s another contradiction in humanity.  We’ll go up and hug the two-ton predator animal and call it a “good kitty”, but we also install cameras and spy on our closest allies on the off chance they might betray us.

Day Ninety

-Today I have been entrusted with the responsibility of being the operator. This seems like an oversight as I have next to no idea of how to be the operator. We will see how this goes.

-I found a pair of Valentine’s Day socks depicting a glorious Norse warrior with the caption, “I’ve taken a great Viking to you.” This is the single greatest seasonal item I have ever seen in my expansive seasonal item-hunting life.

-I inadvertently stumbled upon a solid stock of doomsday-ready supplies on a shelf in the hanger room. Hand-powered radios. Flashlights. Baby lotion. Everything one could ever need for armageddon.

-When given the phone, I was told to expect very few calls. This was a relief. I received many calls. I crossed my fingers I had been forwarding the calls correctly and not simply hanging up on confused callers. I still have no proof either way.

-I watched a toddler sprint off to the end of an aisle, wait for his mother to get close, and then sprint off again. This continued through the entirety of the store until he eventually sat down and let her catch up. Never again will I believe video game chase sequences to be unrealistic.

-A decidedly-creepy man asked a female coworker for a spare print ad. After being handed one, he walked off for five minutes to then return to her. He pressed a clipping from a Valentines page against her stomach. The cut-out paper read, “Let’s be friends.” I cannot be sure, but something in me says that this may not be the most effective method.

-From across the store, I heard the voice of a young boy chant, “Let me have my boobies back.” I cannot even begin to imagine the sort of monster who would take them from him.

Dishonest hypocritical pastor loses it all.

I use to be very religious. At the end of that period in my life, I became involved with a new church that was pastored by a charismatic young pastor who seemingly had everything going for him. But the fucker was greedy. Too greedy. As the saying goes: “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Pastor Hog got slaughtered.

My wife and I were looking for a church. An old friend invited us to a new church that was energetic and full of friends. We started attending regularly and eventually became involved with the leadership of the church.

After a while, I started to become uneasy around the pastor. The way he communicated with people just rubbed me the wrong way. I slowly realized that he was a manipulator and compulsive liar. Quick with an overzealous compliment but slow to explain himself when issues arose.

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