Sunday, September 19, 2010

In ??? We Trust.

Who do you trust? Who don’t you trust? What is trust, anyway?

I read an article in Friday’s paper that reported on the findings of an Associated Press National Constitution Center poll that looked at American’s attitudes with regard to trust and confidence in major “fixtures” of our society. These included the military, religion, banks, business, science, and the government, to name a few.. The poll revealed that overwhelmingly Americans trust . . .nobody. Maybe it is not that dire. Or is it?

43% of us trust our military. That was the highest level of confidence shown toward any of the entities that the poll addressed. Small businesses trailed the military by 13%. At the bottom of the list of those who are trustworthy, garnering nearly no confidence at all from us, are Congress, banks, and blogs. Why don’t we trust anyone or anything?

It is my opinion (and remember no one trusts blogs) that our lack of confidence in the world around us is rooted in fear, fear that organizations whose stated purpose is to look out for each person’s well being have other motivations, many of them related to personal power and personal gain rather than care and concern for all of humankind. In a society where greed, self indulgence, injustice, and a lack of integrity prevail, it is not surprising to me that Americans don’t trust government, corporate America, and religious institutions.

As far as I am concerned, a more important question is do we trust each other? Do we trust people? I am not talking about the people who are the faces of the institutions that we appear to resoundingly distrust, but the people who are part of our everyday lives.

Do you trust your spouse? Your children? Your partner? Your auto mechanic? Your financial advisor? Your doctor? Your parents? Your boss?

Do you trust your neighbor? Your friend? Your housekeeper? Your postman?

Do you trust the barista at Starbucks? The stranger beside you on the sidewalk? The man who asks to borrow a dollar for bus fare? The young mother who pleads with you to give her a few dollars to by baby formula?

Who do you trust? Who don’t you trust? Do you trust yourself?

Do you trust yourself enough that you can, with confidence, assess the trustworthiness of others?

Perhaps the most important question here really is do I trust myself? Without trust in ourselves, it is impossible to trust anyone or anything else. That seems to be where many Americans find themselves right now.

How sad.