Saturday, May 16, 2020
Has it slipped away?
Over the past fifteen or twenty – maybe thirty – years, the United States of America has lost something intangible but gravely important. Symptoms of this loss are apparent in the way we view our federal government, our state government, our police forces, the news media, scientists, banks, businesses (especially the big ones), our schools, our faith-based institutions and even our neighbors. What has been lost?
I’d suggest TRUST: Trust that our leadership in DC can shepherd us through a pandemic; Trust that our state leaders have our interests as guiding lights; Trust that the police will treat everyone fairly and with respect; Trust that the news media is honest, that schools actually teach, that banks and businesses exist for something besides abject profiteering; Trust that our churches will serve to unite rather than divide us.
Trust is the bedrock upon which all relations are built. It is something that is earned through honest effort and easily squandered when motives more narrow than “the greater good” come into play.
The demise of the Fairness Doctrine back in 1987, may have laid the groundwork for the mechanisms of distrust. There are those who profit by marketing distrust; by presenting the un-factual as truth, by acting upon the fears and insecurities of others; by finger-pointing, name-calling, defaming, insulting and more. They take to our airwaves stoking fear and encouraging disruption. Advertisers see the market and pay the freight knowing that, regardless of the political bent or honesty of the broadcast, listeners still will need to buy toilet paper, breakfast cereal, pickup trucks, arthritis pain relievers and beer.
Trust can be reinforced when we spend at least as much time honoring, supporting and showing some appreciation for those institutions of government, enterprise, enlightenment and faith, as we do bitching about ‘em. And when our leaders spend more time criticizing and tearing down those institutions – cultivating seeds of distrust – then we have the wrong leaders. It feels that way now, doesn’t it?
As this election season heats up, you can be sure we will all be inundated with misinformation aimed at creating or supporting those weeds of distrust. The best antidote may be simple to express, yet difficult to employ:
· Look for facts based upon data. You might have to dig a little to find that data. Understand that “without data, all you’ve got is another opinion.”
· Set your sights on the greater good which is not always defined as “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” The balance in my savings account may have grown in the past four years, but the chuck hole in the middle of Main Street is still gonna knock my wheels out of alignment. Everybody else’s, too.
· Be willing to embrace – well, at least listen to – that point of view which challenges your own. But consider that the ones shouting the most, might very well be shouting because they lack confidence in that which they profess to believe, and they don’t want to be challenged themselves.
· Whether leaning left or leaning right, cast your vote for, as Adam Schiff recently said, “Right, truth and decency.” They matter.
· Finally: TRUST. Trust that we’re all in this together – even those with whom we might disagree – and that each of us is trying our very best within the limits granted to us by nature and/or nurture.
There is much good and still much promise in this land. We must trust in that, and in one-another.
Church of the Open Road Press