Have you had the experience of thinking about something, and someone else mentions the same thing? This happens to me more than occasionally. One such example was last week. I had the subject of Trust on my mind, and our pastor spoke about Trust in his sermon on Sunday. He even used an example of Trust that I had been thinking of. I was amazed. While my pastor’s focus of Trust was a little different than mine, I was struck by the synchronicity of something on my mind also being the focus of his sermon. I have learned to follow my heart in these matters. I realized that the subject of Trust should be the subject of this blog. I decided to obey the urge that put this subject on my mind and heart and share some thoughts about it.
It will be no surprise to most that there has been a decay of trust in our society. This is especially true of trust in our institutions and the people in charge of them. I wonder if this decay is related to what I think is an increase in individualism and self-centeredness. We seem to be more and more a “Me” generation. While it is tempting to blame this shift on the Millennials, before doing so we should realize that many of us raised them! It is possible that if there is too much of a focus on “me” and “my” wants, we have some responsibility for that. The blame game should not be our focus. It is best to understand where we are on the issue of trust, why the decline is problematic, and how to trust more.
The example my pastor used that had also been on my mind was about traffic. When we get in our car and drive, we trust that the other cars on the road will be safe. We trust that the other drivers will obey the rules of the road and that we will all stay safe. We trust that the bridges will hold. Unfortunately, we have a recent example of the latter not being true; the terrible tragedy of the recent bridge collapse at Florida International University. There is also the too frequent example of someone driving the wrong way on a highway and causing tragic accidents. Even with these horrific tragedies, we still get in our cars and drive. We still go over bridges without questioning if they will be safe. We (perhaps blindly) trust that we will be safe. Why then do we not trust in other ways? Especially, why do we not trust others?
We have become a very polarized society. An outcome of this is our inability to trust others with different opinions and beliefs. Our most recent presidential election did not start it. I don’t know when it started, although newsman Ted Koppel stated in a presentation he made a few years ago that it started with the advent of the twenty-four-hour “news” cycle.
Why do we trust cars and bridges more than we trust the politicians elected to represent us? It is too simplistic and easy to believe it is all about them. It has to have something to do with us. If we are looking outward for our answers, and our blame, what does that say about us? Is it possible that we are the problem, not others? Is it possible that if others don’t mimic what we believe, that our inability to like them extends to our unwillingness or inability to trust them? Can we only like and trust others who think like us? If so, how do we ever learn anything more than we (think we) already know?
How do we learn to trust more?
I just heard of a new TV documentary, “America Inside Out,” hosted by Katie Couric, which might help us begin the journey. It seems that the focus of this will be to help improve empathy, a necessary quality to build trust and better relationships. To do so, however, requires that we get outside of ourselves and to trust that in doing so we will not lose ourselves.
More questions than answers.