Stone Pigs

undeniable underlying truths

Who Do You Trust?

Posted By Alan Partis on June 27, 2009

Jack Nicholson’s Joker character in “Batman” once famously said, “Who do you trust?” The screenplay writer(s) were spot on.

I recently had a very long and serious ‘discussion’ with my young daughter on this topic as well. Even though she had told me a small lie, it was a lie nonetheless and it was a good time to try to teach a lesson. Much of my lecture centered on trust. Without trust, we could never let her our of our sight. Her teachers need to be able to trust that she’ll obey rules. With trust come privileges.

On a social level, we must all trust one another. Without constant trust, we’d never be able to leave our homes for fear that someone would steal our property. We’d never be able to eat food that we didn’t grow and prepare ourselves.

Trust is the bedrock of a healthy functioning society.

Sadly, we have come to a point where, as a society, we have virtually no trust in our government office-holders. That trust has been whittled away over an extraordinary amount of time. While it’s probably never been possible to completely trust these people (they are, afterall, human), the public trust was certainly violated over our entry into, and handling of, the Vietnam War. Former President Nixon damaged it further. The list of scoundrels at both the local and national level in the last 40 years is too lengthy to enumerate — the most recent example is the governor of my state: South Carolina’s Mark Sanford.

Politicians will say virtually anything during a campaign to entice the voters, but you can’t trust them to follow through on anything. Obama said he wouldn’t raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 per year. Joe Biden clarified that further to include “any kind of taxes.” Once into office, they will all go their own way and simply offer some lame excuse to support their broken promises. Obama broke his tax pledge in a matter of hours it seemed (unless he thinks that only rich people buy cigarettes). About the only thing you can trust is that if a politician’s lips are moving, they’re probably lying.

We clearly can’t trust lawmakers to stand impervious to lobbyists and not skew legislation in favor of one group at the expense of another. Selective law enforcement and execution by the various bodies in the executive branch of governments leads to a great amount of distrust and division in our society. And how can you have confidence that contracts you’ve signed will be properly executed if you can’t trust judges when a dispute arises?

Since we are a society that is governed by the rule of law, we supplant some of our need to trust public officials by writing more and more laws. And then when something doesn’t work perfectly, we write more laws. Ultimately we’re so hemmed in by a massive patchwork of laws that there is no longer any room to think for yourself or apply simple logic to a situation and we become completely consumed with petty political maneuvering.

We MUST find a way to get trust back into our social fabric.


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