No other word is more emotionally charged or more sacred to the success of human endeavors. And yet, no other word is trampled on more violently or tossed off the tongue more carelessly.
Never is that more evident than during political campaigns.
Trust me, the politicians plead. We listen to their promises. Some we believe, some we don't. And paradoxically, the more we're exhorted to trust, the more distrustful we become.
Running beneath all this is the quiet knowledge that we have to trust others or we're toast. There's no other way to get things done. Without trust, zippo.
No marriage, no family, no workplace, no friendships, no religion, no nation, no world.
Nobody would get on an airplane without trust. Or check into a hospital. Or drive a car.
We trust the investment company to look after our money. Children trust parents to keep them safe. Consumers trust makers of products to live up to their claims. And we trust the government. Yes, even those who say they don't.
Sometimes our trust is betrayed, but despite the pain, we trust again. We have to. When we have lost the ability to trust, we've lost everything. It's the glue that holds humanity together.
I get the feeling that most people understand how important trust is, and respect it. But there are several ways we can shoot ourselves in the foot. For one thing, our expectations are often unreasonable and the people in our lives can't live up to them. That encourages lying.
We rely on so-called experts too much, like doctors, lawyers, ministers and priests, media talking heads, and anything we see in print or on TV instead of thinking for ourselves.
We create false perceptions. We get greedy and selfish. We don't act responsibly and we make excuses when we should admit mistakes.
When others disappoint us, there's a rule that may not be golden, but it works: Cut some slack for others as you would have them cut some slack for you.
Don't be too trusting. It's not that hard to do some research before making big decisions. Learn to interpret body language and check out a person's reputation before entrusting him with your life savings or your life.
And please, before you betray someone's trust, think about how hard it is to get it back again.
At this moment, half the country is deeply distrustful of the other half, thanks to one of the strangest presidential elections in our history. But we're also more energized. After all the hysterics and accusations die down, the bottom line hasn't changed. We still have to trust each other and get back to business.
The wise among us have learned a few things about trust. Here are some quotes gleaned from various collections to put on your fridge:
Trust everyone, but cut the cards. Finley Peter Dunne
Trust in Allah, but tie your camel. Muslim proverb
Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them. Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
In God we trust; all others pay cash. Sign in a retail store
Seize the day, put no trust in tomorrow. Horace
Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even though they bring gifts. Virgil, The Aeneid
The best proof of love is trust. Joyce Brothers
You can trust your car to the man who wears the star. Texaco Company
The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him. Henry L. Stimson
Once you've lost your parents' trust, it's hard to get it back. Kara, age 13
If you can't trust a friend, then that person isn't really your friend. What is a friend without trust? Andrea, age 14
Trust not him who hath once broken faith. Shakespeare
You can't trust dogs to watch your food. Patrick, age 10
You can direct questions or comments to Vivian Taylor by e-mailing her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her at 474-1386.