Trust; it is such a small word, yet apparently a concept too big for many to comprehend.
Let me preface this with a disclaimer; I’m not picking on any one affiliation; political, religious, social, ethnic, etc. This is more a comment against society (humanity?) as a whole.
That being said, let me start with a few examples of broken trust;
- The current administration’s unbelievable media tapping/record grabbing scandal
- The current administration’s targeting of certain members of the media who are doing their legally and lawfully protected jobs.
- The current administration’s blatantly lying to us about the cause of the Benghazi attacks.
- The IRS targeting groups based on their political leanings.
- The current (and supposedly most transparent) administration having so many closed door meetings they make Maxwell Smart getting into his headquarters look like he’s walking through a sieve.
- Church leaders embezzling funds from their churches for self-benefit
- School teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students.
- Popular media personalities having extra-marital affairs, with no apparent sense of regret or remorse.
Okay, so I think I just covered and pointed out that there are a lot of examples of broken trust in the world today.
Why is this bothering me? My question is; does any of this bother you?
Trust is a word for us to toss around and pass out with little regard to it’s true meaning. “Trust me!’ people say. But what does that mean to most people?
According to Dictionary.com, trust is
reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
confident expectation of something; hope.
In a more practical sense, trust means that I’m going to do what I say, and that I say what I mean. Or, to paraphrase it from a Biblical perspective, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” (Matt 5:37 for several translations of this passage.) When you say you’ll do something (or won’t do something), the keep your word. It’s not that hard of a concept, is it? So why are there so many people who don’t take their wedding vows seriously? Why do we have politicians saying they’ll do one thing, yet doing the complete opposite (and many times claiming ignorance and denial of their own record having said the opposite!) Why is it so hard to trust one another anymore?
As children, we put our trust in our parents to teach us in the right ways of life. As parents, we put our trust in our teachers and educational system to teach our kids the things they need to know to succeed in the world. As parents and families, we put our trust in our church leaders to guide us in spiritual matters. AS consumers, we put our trust in corporate leadership to run their companies with integrity and to treat us as consumers with a sense of fairness and reasonable expectations. As citizens of our cities/states/country, we put our trust in our elected leadership to govern and lead by the rule of law, applied equally and fairly to all.
Right now, however, we have an elected administration that is apparently doing all it can to destroy that sense of trust in it. And trying to get answers from them only gets us “We had no knowledge of that.” Or “I did nothing wrong, and plead the fifth.” Or “It was a few low level employees in a single location.” Or “We weren’t aware of it until now.” With statements like those, our elected officials have just ruined their own credibility and destroyed any trust we should have in them. This same administration wants to keep lawful citizens from obtaining “assault-style” weapons (is there technical a non-assault style weapon? Aren’t all weapons, by definition, used for assault?), yet happily hands those weapons over to foreign drug cartels and then promptly loses them? This is the same administration that said taxes won’t go up and that if you like your health insurance you can keep it, and yet we’ve seen both of those conditions dissolving faster than a snowball on Tattooine.
These are just the most recent and prominent examples of broken trust, which is why I brought them up right now. As I pointed out, there’s plenty of other example above that you can search for that help illustrate my point.
Again, my venting here isn’t directed at just politicians. It’s a genuine outcry to everyone; individuals, corporations, political parties, religious organizations, etc. Trust is not something to be demanded. It’s something that is earned. It feels to me that too many of those we put our trust in think that their position of authority or leadership automatically grants them our trust. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being placed in a position of authority and leadership doesn’t necessarily mean we trust the person; it just means we’re willing to give them a chance to earn our trust.
And what’s the best way to earn someone’s trust? Say what you mean and mean what you say! If our politicians say your taxes won’t go up, then don’t raise our taxes. If a spiritual leader says the offering is going to a specific budget, spend that money for that budget, not on your wife’s singing career (random Bing search this morning revealed this one from Singapore). If a teacher agrees to teach in a school system, just teach my child, don’t seduce them into an inappropriate relationship that they aren’t ready for.
If you are going to say yes, then mean yes. If you are going to say no, then mean no. Give us a reason to be confident in your integrity. Let us be confident in our expectations of your actions. Give us a real reason to hope. Earn our trust.