Trust

After all, when you get down to the essential human experience, like Billy Joel said, it’s simply a matter of trust.

“In God we trust, all others pay cash.” Jean Shepherd

I first read this line, not from Jean Sheperd’s famous book, but from a fortune cookie. I thought it was a very humorous and timely coincidence as it was shortly after I came back from Europe during the turmoil created by Richard Nixon when he took the dollar off the gold standard. I was caught with dollar denominated travelers checks in countries whose trust in the dollar was sorely shaken. It seemed that overnight what they perceived as the last great money was divorced from the very source of its being, even though the reality was that it had happened decades before. I paid dearly for that perception as the exchange rates and fees soared. It was not a pleasant experience but a great lesson in the meaning of trust.

My friends told me to read Sheperd’s book, which I did; it wasn’t really all that great, a collection of fictional stories the author had previously told on radio.  I subsequently learned that the title was in fact not original as it was a borrowed phrase commonly used in early 20C America about the lack of trust in credit and checks. It was a play on the words “In God We Trust” found on US currency starting soon after the Civil War, both on coin and paper; it’s still used today, just take out any money on you and there it is.

But what does this word trust actually mean? What is the concept behind a word we use so often in our lives and in so many contexts? What is it about this word that carries such a sacred respect in human relationships, whether personal, commercial or political?

Basically it comes down to faith in someone else to do what they say they will do based purely on what you know from prior experience. This means that trust has to be earned, not taken for granted, but built on actions, not just words. That kind of experience forms a bond, and we call that trust.

This applies in the context of all human relationships, and is the essence of how trust is built. A cop trusts his partner because they’ve been through experiences where they each had each other’s backs, with business partners who have weathered the unknowns of enterprise, of husbands and wives getting through the good and bad times together, and of citizens united in the history of their nation’s trials to survive whatever the world throws at them. The common thread here is that you can rely on each other to remain loyal to one another because you have created a bond of trust.

That is not some vague or esoteric concept, it is an existential reality based on actions, not words.  You know it and rely on it not because someone says so but because someone does so. Nothing is more sacred in human relationships, no matter your race, color, creed, politics or economic class, simply no matter what.

So why is it now that there is so much distrust in our culture and society today? Well think of the opposite of trust, and the logical conclusion is because our faith in each other has been betrayed; the essence of human experience is now fear and hate, hardly conducive in creating good faith in each other, in building that bond of trust. However, it works just fine in polarizing Americans in to opposing camps; the result is the inability to look beyond differences in order to find common cause.  This has happened before in our history, and it ultimately led to the Civil War. 

Up until recently, this was a “culture war”, facilitated my failed politics and news bias, exponentially accelerated by the technology of social media. We drowned out the opposition, even going so far as to violate our own heritage of free speech, casting the “opposition” with toxic labels, drowning out all those who we found tainted with an irredeemable sin of being different.

Then the inevitable happened.  First we saw the destruction of our cities with riots, burning, looting, armed conflict and death. We thought things couldn’t get worse, but then yesterday happened with an assault our own government, the Capital of our country, a violent riot over the outcome of an election.  We are stunned, sickened, confused as to how such a state of affairs in the world’s oldest Republic could come to pass.

I don’t say this callously, but really, what did we expect? If we come to a state of distrust in each other, then we come to a point where hate and fear break the bonds that tie, and that break as we have seen throughout history turns violent. Today we hear all about the search for those to blame.  Trump is an easy target, and despite his empty words today, deserves no respect from any American, as he was the match that lite the fuse.  However, Trump, while the immediate cause with his rants about voting fraud, is not the real cause, but a result of a trust long gone.

It’s like looking at a great tree hundreds of years old felled by lightning, and finding that its heartwood is a rotted core, the lifeblood of its existence succumbed to its own destruction. Think carefully before you dismiss this as anything less than true, and then think of your fellow Americans and ask yourself why, from whatever political or social or cultural beliefs you have, you fear or hate those that don’t share them. Consider if you support any form of censorship against whoever expresses contrary beliefs or repression of any protest against your point of view. If you find that you support such things, then understand you are in breach of good faith and lack the trust in liberty that should be our common cause.

Hopefully the nucleus of your own personal lives remains in a state of faith in that essential trust, but unless you’re living under a rock, you can’t avoid the lack of trust there is in our society, including in our government. The word polarization is more a result than a cause; you have to first define the reasons for such a phenomenon before you can point to the cause, and without doing that, we can’t get back to a union of common cause where we can trust each other regardless of our race, color, creed, politics, economic class, simply no matter what, no excuses, just good faith and respect for each other based on what we do, not what we say.

The violent riots in our cities and the recent attacks on the nation’s capital with their destruction of life and property attest to this basic lack of trust. This goes back long before Trump.  While he took advantage of this lack of trust, he himself was a result, not the cause. In truth, he is so shallow a narcissistic moron to be the cause of anything, a product of the horrors of distrust developed over time.

Remember Trump’s taunts about the “Deep State” and his pledges to “Drain the Swamp”?  Those are not new buzz words coined by his campaign speech writers; they’re terms used going back at least a century ago. Consider all the lies perpetrated on Americans about why we should get involved in foreign conflicts like the Great War, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya….and who knows what’s next. Consider the fallacies about the creation of the Federal Reserve that funds these atrocities through slight-of-hand financial engineering, defrauding Americans of their wealth.  Consider the great social enterprises of the “New Deal”, the “Great Society” and other such boondoggles that have wasted our resources. Consider the “Quantitative Easing” that financially engineered our wealth to the already wealthy, the cronyism of the marriage between business and government; what betrayals of trust!

No, Trump was a result, a demon created by betrayal, and that demon then played Americans in to believing that he was a savior form all that, while in reality he was just another charlatan selling the same old trash, an elixir to cure all simply because we should trust him; empty words, with the only action being a reaction of violence, and with bad people of both sides.

So how do we fix this absence of trust? No more words, we need action, but before action, we need the right ideas on which to act.  Do we have that, not just in the new administration, but in ourselves to stop doing the same old thing, over and over again, voting in the same kind of politicians who keep selling us ideas that we should know are so ludicrous, so fundamentally flawed and contrary to every tenet of liberty and justice?

It is far harder to build trust after a betrayal than when first starting on any kind of relationship.  Take for instance a fiduciary relationship, such as what the US government is supposed to have with its citizens. It is a unique relationship in that the trustor and the beneficiary are one and the same, i.e. the American people. The trustee is the US government. Without going into all the various facets of this relationship with the Federal Reserve, US Treasury, Congress, etc. suffice it to say that by any standard of performance of fiduciary responsibility that trust has been betrayed.  We, the people of the US, are in debt that exceeds that of any nation in the history of the world. Our currency over the last century has been devalued to the point that it now takes a dollar for what a nickel used to buy. The financial and monetary manipulations of government have created a huge wealth and income gap favoring the elites of corporatism. If such things happened in the private sector, we would see headlines similar to the Madoff scandal.

Take the trust we place in government to act in the best interest and wellbeing of its citizens and in good faith among nations to respect their sovereignty and explain then the endless wars killing so many of our youth and innocent civilians of the countries we attack. How can such inhumanity not be a betrayal of trust?

Consider our constitution and the oath those in government take to support and defend it, and then look at the brazen violations by our elected officials and you should not wonder at the loss of trust Americans fell about their government.

What we need from our future administrations is not just an assurance that we can rely on them to act in good faith to restore our trust in government, but actions that show the character, ability, strength, and perseverance to restore our confidence that each and every individual American, regardless of race, color, creed, politics and economic class, will be treated the same, with respect for the liberties guaranteed them under the constitution; that is the bond that creates the trust needed for a nation to be at peace with itself. After all, when you get down to the essential human experience, like Billy Joel said, it’s simply a matter of trust.

Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

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