Many societal changes that have occurred in my seventy eight year life have been positive. Mankind has benefited from those changes. For example, racism is a shadow of what it once was; trust me as I have lived through much tougher racial times. Most of what lingers does so because those promoting racism these days see personal gain in doing so.
However, there is one critical societal change that has been moving in the wrong direction and is hurting all of us. I am speaking of the extreme loss of trust we see across our country.
As a boy in the nineteen fifties my parents taught me to never tell a lie. Honesty and trustworthiness were presented as non-optional. Parenting was reinforced by my Boy Scout leaders, Sunday school teachers and grade school teachers. There were codes to live by and those who significantly violated those codes suffered the consequences of their actions.
Interjection: Back then most Americans lived in small towns or close neighborhoods in big cities. Year after year we knew and dealt with the same limited number of people. We knew and trusted them. We relied on each other; connected at the hip as it were. Television was in its infancy and had little influence in our daily lives. The Internet and use of it for social engineering purposes was still decades away.
With the passage of time we became more mobile by using planes, trains and automobiles to move about. Our circle of contacts began to grow rapidly even as our tight circle of friends and neighbors began to dissolve. People moved away from the old hometown and never returned. Our deep connections were being lost. We were living on our own in distant locations surrounded by strangers. We met a lot more people but actually knew far fewer people; trust went missing.
With the dawning of the Internet and non-stop 24/7 breaking cable news, we retreated into the seclusion of our own homes. At first we just watched. Soon, seeing others post comments, we felt compelled to answer with comments of our own. All along, we were being misinformed by many of the sources we allowed into our homes. We believed our own views were informed when they were nothing but echoes of sources that were not trustworthy. Both sides were guilty of playing us on issue after issue. To our individual and collective discredit, we began picking sides and going along. In this process trust was lost. Loss of trust has turned out to have devastating impact. Don’t look for it to return anytime soon as the masters of untruth and manipulation are having their way with us.
Personal Note: I began my life trusting others until they clearly demonstrated that they were not to be trusted. As I draw nearer to the end of my life, I find myself trusting nobody until they clearly demonstrate that they can be trusted. A 180 degree flip and one that I regret.