05/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Trust Is the Answer: Yunus and the Future of Everything

One thing I learned very early on during these past few years of meetings with Muhammad Yunus is that he TRUSTS people, and because of that, people trust him. He trusted poor women with no collateral and gave them microloans, and they proved to him that they could pay back. What is wonderful about this relationship, is that he knew they would pay back. He believed in them.

Who today believes in people? Where is Trust still a major component of banking? What has happened to the human element in the economy? How many of us can say that we have not betrayed bonds of Trust? Muhammad Yunus is not a perfect man, but he has brought to the forefront the fact that nothing replaces human Trust.

I remember when I lived in Italy as a single mom, and rented an apartment in the center of the city, my landlord tried to get me to pay more than what we had agreed on...when I confronted him he responded, "You are a single American woman living in Italy. You are a single American woman living in Rome. You are a single American woman living in Trastevere. Of course I am going to try to take from you the most that I can". "Ahh...but that is not what we agreed to," I said. I had trusted the landlord to respect his word. I may have been "an American woman" living in his country, and he may have thought I was naive to have trusted him, but I decided to go ahead and do so. And in the end, who backed down? My Italian landlord, and he did so smiling, as he knew I had been right. After that we got along great. But I would never have signed another agreement with him. I learned, but I kept Trust intact. Because if you give up on Trusting your fellow human beings, then the Bastards win. They make you mistrustful like they are. And I don't want to live like that. And I don't want to pay hard-earned money to someone I don't trust. Grameen borrowers pay back because they are proud to be part of Grameen, they Trust Yunus, and they benefit from the over 98% payback rate!

When you abuse humans, see them only as vectors of pure profit, and manipulate them financially, especially the poor, the human side will come back to haunt you. Sub-prime loans were made to people who were often completely unaware of what they were signing, had no idea what an ARM was, and were seen simply as ways to make yet another fee. If Trust had been involved, and at the heart of these agreements, either the loans would not have been made, or would have been made in a sustainable way which worked for all. Trust was missing. We need to bring it back..

The flip side of this is that you would never want to betray or cross those who have placed their trust in you. This holds true for relationships of all kinds, be they personal, financial, creative or spiritual. Once you betray the person who has placed their trust in you, you start to create a false reality, one based on a lack of, not abundance, a non-sustainable situation which simply will not hold up. Forgiveness can take place, but the strong Trust which exists at the beginning has been damaged.

Because people eventually see through those who break bonds of trust, it is always best to deeply respect what ties us to one another. Without these bonds, which help us create lasting relationships, economies, and include the human element, we are in fact, less than human. Without Trust, we are less than the best we can be.

So, remember to include Trust in all aspects of your relationships.

Muhammad Yunus is not only trusting, when he discovers that people (or companies) have been less than upfront, he decides simply to move forward and do more, and do it better and bigger. He turns the other cheek. And in doing so, in keeping his mind focused on the bigger picture, he becomes part of the answer, not mired down in what often holds us back as human beings And that is why he, and the women of the Grameen Bank, won the Nobel Peace Prize. I am proud to be helping to produce a feature film on the uplifting way Yunus and the women of Grameen are making the future of our world more sustainable, and bringing an end to poverty.