Whom Do You Trust?

by Charlie Phillips

What an interesting word “trust” is. According to The American Heritage Dictionary it is a “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.” However, when someone says, “trust me”, we tend to think just the opposite. We have “In God We Trust” on our money, but we don’t trust God in our schools or public buildings.

We even say at times, “I don’t trust myself.” WOW! Now isn’t that something! If we can’t even trust ourselves, how in the world can we trust someone else? Maybe one reason is that word, like so many others, has been overused. When we hear the used car salesman say, “Trust me, A little old lady used to own this car.” we begin to get suspicious. Not to single out used car salesman; in my opinion, they are a lot higher up the ladder than most politicians I’ve seen lately. I guess you could call the last fifty years “lately”.

Let’s examine that statement “I don’t trust myself.” That, to me, is the first step to failure. I know that we all probably use it at one time or another, but what we are telling ourselves is I don’t believe I can do this. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or think you can’t YOU’RE RIGHT!”

We had a fellow in the White House a few years ago that used the term, “trust but verify.” OK, but is that really trust? If we have to verify then we are not really trusting, are we? If you ask your spouse what they were doing last night and then double check what they said, it means that you really didn’t trust the answer they gave you. Should we just automatically trust someone? I don’t think so; trust is something that must be earned.

Well, what if that other person does something that causes you to doubt whether or not you can trust them? It would probably depend upon the severity of reason for the mistrust; might be a time when you would have to verify, and then again, how much does that person mean to you? If it was something that only happened once and there was a reasonable explanation for it then you should accept it and get on with your life. The old adage “fool me once, etc” applies here, also.

I believe that trust is a two-way street. They have to earn that trust, just as you have to earn their trust. Of course, if you don’t trust yourself, how do you expect others to trust you? I think the first step is to be honest; first with our own self, then with others. Honest with ourselves – let’s see: if we are doing something that could destroy any trust, then we know that it isn’t right.

Honesty is probably the first step we have to take in any situation. If we use honesty as a guide, then we can trust ourselves and others will also learn that we can be trusted. Trusting others and being trusted is a great responsibility and can be shattered with just one misdeed. It’s a lot harder to regain someone’s trust than to never give him or her cause for mistrust.

Life is a lot simpler if you just live honestly, and without guile or secrets. It’s easy to join in with gossip, which is always at the expense of someone, but is that building trust? After all, if you gossip about someone, it plants a seed of doubt in the person you’re gossiping with. If you talk behind someone’s back then what assurances do they have you won’t talk about them to someone else? Brings trust down to a different level, doesn’t it?

Maybe the fellow that said to ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ had a much deeper meaning than we really stopped to think about. It’s real easy to say, “trust me”, much harder to develop trust. Trust – it’s something we should all strive for – and especially to trust ourselves to do the right thing.



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