A lot of things have already been written about the “Open Check” action at the Lviv Biennale of Trust. The losses of institutions-participants in this event and the public image of Lviv are in the limelight. However, the main question is somewhere between the lines: are we ready for such experiments? About trust and its absence, problems and their solution, competition of cities and the complex of an average citizen – in the point of view from Opinion.

“We practice mutual trust on different levels in everyday life”

Mykola Orlov, the founder of the analytical center for the development of the city “ZEON”, is sure: the search for trust is extremely up-to-date, however, the steps towards it may at first be less radical and loss-making than an “open check”. According to Orlov, you can start with a left cup of tea for another person, a donated book or clothes for children. And then it will be possible to talk about more large-scale actions.

“The first association, that I had after the launch of this event and the first reviews of restaurateurs – this is a show on Ukrainian television, where girls judge the weddings of each another. The winner is often the one who came up with the greatest reasons why she gave extremely low and undeserved marks to her competitress – the same beautiful bride. And the viewer believes, that to fly on a romantic journey for free, is only possible in case of cheating, disconnecting the “conscience” function.

The same goes during the events, that are meant to be social, charitable or collaborating. For the average citizen, they are transformed in the brain into one word “action”, and the action is discounts and free stuff. I am trusted – it is great, and then the competition of reasons why I paid a little.

Why does this happen? Because we practice mutual trust on different levels in everyday life. And not only in this example of the show. Recall the civil service, which is often addressed in order to get guaranteed financial assistance, social welfare and parental leave, and a blue-collar job at the place of production, when every day they bring home a block, a cable, a chair, a small screw.

But there are other reasons why those, who visited and paid little for their consumption. Remember the views of sellers, waiters, when you do not look respectably or there is no gold card in your hands. Are you serviced as well as more desirable buyers? Therefore, finding a way of trust is necessary, relevant, the steps to this may be less radical and loss-making than an open check. You can start with the left cup of tea for another person, a donated book, clothes for children’s. And where the light of MUTUAL trust will break through, then we can talk about more extensive mutual actions”, Mykola Orlov is sure.

“An ‘open check’ only showed the problem that exists in society”

Kateryna Shevtsova, a private psychologist, explained to Opinion, that people need some time to change their perceptions of such events and their own actions in such situations. But at the same time, they need an emotional component, for example, a series of social videos, etc. Shevtsova emphasizes: the experiment demonstrated the problem in society, but changing people’s attitudes toward similar projects is unlikely to happen at one time.

“The greed itself is not a pathology. For example, for children of preschool and junior school age, the unwillingness to share toys or sweets with their peers is a normal behaviour and a prerequisite for the overview of their own boundaries. Over time, under the influence of an adult, the child is accustomed to the norms of behaviour that the surrounding people live on. Here is the main trap, because in our society, at the same time, flashy generosity and common deception are encouraged, which aim at eliminating one’s own benefit from each situation. So, it’s no surprise that some of the participants in the Open Check project just tried to use it to eat for free.

If the goal of the project participants is to change this social consciousness, then such projects should be continued. People need some time to change their perception of such events and their actions in similar situations. However, this requires an emotional component in the project. You may need to create a series of social videos about this promotion, and so on.

Of course, they may not work 100%, and next year a certain percentage of visitors will try to eat for free. Here we are dealing with the memorized actions (this is the physical habit or the memory, left by the repeated influence of the stimulus). That is, if a person has already developed a certain model of action in a particular situation, then it simply will not change on its own.

In psychology, there is such a notion as agreeableness (the ability of people to change their minds under the influence of others). For someone, the level of conformance is lower, and they simply need more time or a more serious “stimulus” that can change their mind. “Open Check” only showed the problem, that exists in society, but of course it cannot change the attitude of people to similar projects at one time”, the psychologist comments.

“Our cities love to compete, so why not to compete in trust?”

Pavlo Semenenko, the head of the Zaporizhzhia primary organization of the All-Ukrainian Trade Union “Trust and prosperity”, in the commentary to Opinion, agreed that the “Open Check” event demonstrated how relevant the education of trust is in our society. At the same time, Semenenko stresses: the contribution of this event cannot be overestimated, it makes sense to do such actions at least once a year, and not only in Lviv.

“I have to agree with the organizers of the platform – really, the mistrust pierces Ukrainian society at all levels. This requires something to be done. Projects such as the Biennale of Trust are absolutely necessary for our society. But we have to be prepared for the fact, that when we hold the door open, they are open to all: for the poor and the people in abundance, for honest and cunning, for good and evil. Trust (as well as the belief it precedes) has no logical or factual justification, and therefore it is a certain relation to people and a way of relationships. One can say that this is a step forward to the unknown and at the same time an example of the correct (single) model of interaction in society.

Undoubtedly, this was a significant breakthrough in the formation of the “frame of trust”, the number of speakers and the variety of topics around the issue of trust in various spheres of our lives in Ukraine and in the world inspires, and the “Open Check” action directly showed how relevant is the upbringing of trust precisely in our society. It is possible to discuss for a long time how it would be possible to avoid procrastination, and in my opinion, without exaggeration, changes are impossible. It is a pity that those who took part in this event, leaving money or not, they will think about what has happened and it also always gives a resonance to the wide coverage of the topic in the media, as it was with the case of the distribution of free food at fairs.

It is difficult to overestimate the contribution of this event to our society, perhaps in the format of an open check, the action shouldn’t be made too often, but in my opinion, it is possible to do this at least once a year, not only in Lviv, but in all cities of the country. Our cities love to compete, so why not to compete in trust?”, was said in the comments.

“An average citizen is our inner invincible enemy, because this is you and me”

The writer Bohdan Kovalchuk, instead, is convinced that in the situation with the results of the “Open Check” event, is the so-called “average citizen” complex, on which we are accustomed to dropping all the shortcomings and problems, played a significant role while being it.

“Once upon a time on the Internet I came across someone’s amazingly well-aimed post, full of hatred of the so-called “average person”. Very correct post, I want to say. Because the average person, the average citizen, is the factor of all obstacles in social and cultural progress. This invisible inner enemy is truly invincible. Guess why? Because it is you and me. It is quite likely, that you meet the described person every day, you meet it hundreds or thousands of times. But the worst thing is that such people are de facto ruling the country.

And what did the owners want from this “open check”? The fact is that an average citizen does not visit somewhat decent cafes a priori, as the institutions themselves are in kind of isolation from the outside world. Namely, in restaurants, there are always people, who are a minority of Ukraine. More precisely, almost always – apart from the hours when the “open check” was conducted.

Our people love free stuff. Sometimes a person can even “become privileged”, achieve a status and position, but not get rid of a painful passion for a different kind of “fooling”. The result we all saw in Lviv. But this case is indicative. I hope, that someone’s eyes will open.

Text by Stepan Koza

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