Friday, June 16, 2023


trust: Firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

I used to tell students that the reason stores didn't need to lock everything away requiring customers to ask for access was because most people were honest — could be trusted not to steal — meaning law enforcement only had to deal with the few. That was true then. From "The Trust Crisis":
.... American society is losing its capacity to trust.

According to poll after poll, we’re losing our trust in government, the economy, media, a slew of institutions, and one another. Pew estimates that in 1973, 47 percent of Americans believed that most Americans could be trusted. Today, it’s down to 32 percent. That 15-point drop explains a lot: Our political division and extremism, our rejection of faith and tradition, and our social isolation are connected to waning trust. ....

We’re not Colombia or Peru, where fewer than 10 percent of the population believes that “most people can be trusted.” But we’re sliding in the wrong direction. And the varied expressions of our low-trust crisis are loud and painful.

Americans now use politics to tell friend from foe. And we’re not just politically polarized. We’re becoming ideologically segregated. Data collected by Trafalgar last year show conservatives moving out of Democrat-dominant areas at record numbers. In 2020, Pew found that nearly half the country had stopped talking to someone because of a political disagreement (45 percent for conservative Republicans and a full 60 percent for liberal Democrats). ....

Trust had been eroding for decades in America by the time the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center found that the percentage of respondents in its General Social Survey who said “you can’t be too careful in dealing with people” went from 50.3 percent in 1972 to 63.9 percent in 2018. ....

As faith is a near synonym of trust, it’s obvious that as Americans are becoming less religious, they are also becoming less trusting. In 2021, Gallup found that American “membership in houses of worship” fell “below 50 percent for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend.” Involvement in a church, mosque, or synagogue is not only a vital form of voluntary association. It can be, like the family, a source of moral instruction that inspires man to be kind and trusting to his fellow man. .... (more, but likely requiring a subscription)
Abe Greenwald, "The Trust Crisis," Commentary, June, 2023.

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