Opinion: Trust in trust?


A thoughtful strategic planning process places high importance on, among other obligations and requirements, identifying and agreeing upon some statement of the work’s objective. Such sentences are often called missions, impact statements or visions.  Of such importance, it seems, are these declarations of an organization’s purpose and goals that our own nascent nation pulled together a Committee of Congress on July 4, 1776 to design a seal for the United States. Those good people included the motto E pluibus unum (translated from the Latin – Out of many, one – we are all in this together, so trust in each other).

Although the motto was never adopted independently from the Great Seal, it did unofficially hold in the intervening 175 years from 1782 until 1956 when Congress decided to declare “In God We Trust” as our maxim. Mostly appearing on U.S. currency, the dictum became more relevant as our nation abandoned the gold standard of underwriting our money, moving instead to a system largely based in trust of the federal government.  Scores of political, academic and financial leaders have debated, and continue to review, the efficacy of the shift.  All the same, trust became the central element to our economy.

Even as the crime rate in our state’s largest city hits record levels, local law enforcement routinely laments the reluctance of citizens’ trust in partnering with it to identify perpetrators. But the data reveals that the past several decades have been tough on faith.  Still, can a society survive without it? Can trust be extorted or only earned? And even if we trust in God, can we be expected to do the same for Uncle Sam? In a time when our confidence is strained, how do we find our way back to conviction? Is trust enough, or is it the only thing?