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The Oval: Trust – a Two-Way Street
They say America has a trust deficit. That we don’t trust our institutions any more. We don’t trust Congress. Or the White House. Or the Supreme Court. Everyone’s cutting deals! Everyone’s looking out for themselves! Liberals and conservatives agree – you can’t trust the media. The stories are slanted to fit an agenda… or just flat-out wrong! And you sure can’t trust the banks! If you’re late on your loan, they might foreclose on you. If you invest with them, they might sell you junk wrapped in a pretty wrapper. And we just learned this week, that they’ve been lying. Lying about the interest rate they charge each other. All so they would look better to regulators. And so they wouldn’t have to pay savers and investors as much.
We profess to be shocked. Shocked! How could banks lie? How could the media get it wrong? How could politicians be so inept?
I wonder. I wonder what the trust deficit means. Does it mean that America’s great institutions. Its leaders and functionaries. Have their work cut out for them? And that all they have to do is start telling the truth? Start being honest? Start being accountable? I am not so sure.
It’s not just because I don’t think they CAN be honest. It’s because I don’t think we should EXPECT them to be honest.Because frankly, that’s not how America was designed. The Founding Fathers were suspicious of big institutions: The Church of England, the big trading companies of London, the King.
Exploiters. Taxers. It was their way – or banishment.
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So the Founders chose revolution. They trusted the individual and placed power in the citizen. They wrote the Constitution with this in mind. They didn’t want America dominated by a new Church, a new King. Because they knew that at the heart of trust is dependency.
Trust is wonderful, don’t get me wrong! Trust is at the heart of friendship, of all enduring human relationships – especially marriage.
But trust between people is a two-way street. Trust between people and institutions is a dead-end. The individual trusts. The institution is indifferent.
So maybe this is a good thing. To have our trust shattered. It’s a wake up call. It’s a reminder. We are citizens, not children. It would be nice to trust our leaders, but we shouldn’t have to. We should have to trust only ourselves. We should trust those we know – not distant bureaucrats, not even our elected leaders. Certainly not self-appointed experts, and media pundits, and the CEOs of banks and corporations.
But this is easier said than done.
We have been trained…trained to wait like a damsel in distress for someone else to save us.
When the banks lied to us we ran into the arms of the bank regulators! And when the regulators fail, we are told: ‘Hire more regulators! Create more regulations!’
Last week, there were storms across the country. Trees down. Power outages. Houses destroyed. The east coast took quite a hit. And one area – Washington DC – stayed dark for days. After a few days of sitting in the heat,the people of Washington rose up!
What did they do? They complained! They wrote letters! And what did they say? They said: Where are the utility regulators? Why isn’t our government protecting us from these evil and lazy utility companies?
It’s a habit. It’s a bad habit. Imagine what the Founding Fathers would say? ‘Why are you so dependent? Where did America go so wrong? What happened to the Republic?’
If our institutions fail us we shouldn’t run into the arms of another big giant institution – we should take on the work of fixing things.
Stop delegating the work to others. Stop complaining when others don’t do things right. That’s what children do. And we’re not children.
Let’s make our institutions earn our trust. But if they can’t…if they won’t…someone else has to the job. Will it be you?
Many thanks for watching. God bless you and God bless the Republic.
***Below, Glenn introduces The Oval and discusses the nature of truth and the importance of lasting principles.