Arguably, the 1980s band New Edition led the subsequent wave of teen pop. Smooth rhythms and mellow voices found the perfect combination of safe and sexy to appeal to a wide audience, one could assume to include singer Whitney Houston, who ultimately married founding member Bobby Brown. History lesson aside, Track 9 on the band’s 1985 album, “All for Love,” is a song “Who Do You Trust?” For those good readers who have to ask Siri what is an album, let alone a track, suffice it to say it is a 4-minute and 13-second saccharine musical romp where ostensibly the teenage paramour is wooing his would-be Juliet into doing something that she is resisting with the lines, “Who do you trust if you can’t love me? I’m the one who loves you.”
Rightly, judging from the many, many times the phrase is repeated, Juliet isn’t buying it. Fast forward a few decades and we now find ourselves trapped like our young heroine. Most, it seems, implore us to “trust” them, preferably them alone. We are encouraged, even scolded, to put aside our long-held beliefs and blindly follow the lead of a business marketing campaign, an ambitious government official, or any of a dizzying array of folks, good and bad, that hope to possess our money, our votes, or our very beliefs. The pledges range from personal fitness, to a better society, to a career-promising education, to a key to heaven.
If we give them what they want, they will give us what we want. How can this be a bad thing? Free-market trade is best of all. But where there is no trust, can we make a fair evaluation of our alternatives, let alone a fair exchange? How can we believe that they are “the one” who loves us?