It’s easy to begin to wonder if anyone or anything is as it seems. Athletes have let us down from Tiger Woods to Lance Armstrong to Manti Te’o to baseball players not worthy of hall of fame status. . Celebrities lip sync instead of singing live–is nothing real? We have been reduced to dismissing public displays of emotion by politicians as crocodile tears as in the case of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and with the latter, we have even gone so far as to question a medical diagnosis. We have marveled, incredulously, at the fury and nonsense in Washington that serves only to thwart every process before it’s even been given a chance. It seems as if we are so worried about being taken for a ride, being gullible, vulnerable, that we don’t want to take a chance and believe, fully, in anyone or anything. Add to that sense of disbelief the shock and revulsion we have all felt in the wake of the senseless, violent acts others commit–most recently, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora, and many others over the years.

Have we become a more cynical nation?

Not me. I can’t live that way. I’d rather take a risk and believe in something or someone with my whole being–and be let down–than not believe in anything or anyone at all and question every motive, every act, and every word that I hear. I would rather hang my hat on possibility and dreams and the inherent goodness in people than focus on what’s gone wrong or may go wrong. I would rather believe the best than expect the worst. Otherwise, what’s the point? To live in constant self-protection mode so that we’re not made the fool?

There are plenty of reasons to doubt everything and no shortage of examples to back up those suspicions. But there’s one very good reason to take a chance and believe in the doubtful anyway–If you start believing only the worst soon that’s all you’ll see. I’d rather be a hopeful fool than a doubting Thomas. I’d rather be wrong in the second place then cynical in the first place. I’d rather give the benefit of the doubt to sincerity and goodness and err on the side of gullibility than steel myself against betrayal at all costs.

It may be getting harder to believe what we see and hear. But being suspicious of everyone’s motives and intent doesn’t solve the problem. It simply adds another layer and brings us into the darkness.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…shame on you. There is no shame in being fooled. There is no shame in generosity of the spirit. The alternative is much worse.