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Robin Smith / November 16, 2020

Major Institutions Earned Our Distrust

Unfortunately, trust doesn’t come with a refill, but it can (slowly) be rebuilt.

Higher education, tech companies, news outlets, large corporations, organized religion, and government in general are all showing signs of depleted trust from the American public. This corrosion is a big problem, and we should worry.

Parents are sending their children to colleges and universities with the hope that they will be equipped and prepared for a career, profession, or vocation, but only 50% surveyed by Pew Research in August 2019 agreed that higher education had a positive impact on the direction of America, while 38% attributed a negative influence on current events.

Pew found that lost trust wasn’t just in our nation’s learning institutions. Americans are losing trust in each other. Those adults surveyed who stated they had lost trust in their fellow man and woman totaled 64%, and another 70% believed this distrust to be the key factor preventing solutions for our nation’s serious problems. The media was noted to have a negative effect on our nation by 64%, while big tech companies and higher ed came in around 50%. Very sadly, the respondents who have lost trust in others say that individuals “have become more lazy, greedy and dishonest.”

Elections, universities, religion, and media don’t fail in and of themselves. Each of these gain morality or immorality — a set of virtues or vices — based on those who populate them and are charged with their operations. Our leaders must inspire, set standards, and instill the framework for excellence while modeling integrity for others to follow. Harvard Business Review declared, “Trust is essential to developing relationships with individuals. Leaders who cannot inspire trust cannot lead; there will be no followership.”

News networks need not wonder why Americans are no longer consuming information from biased outlets when “journalists” make no effort to actually report the facts. Schools shouldn’t question parents preferring education to indoctrination and academics to activism. Voters should be able to trust that every legal vote will count. When we have no way to validate the authenticity of mailed ballots, it destroys the confidence and trust of the American electorate.

“Credibility is your best currency,” read the subtitle to a 2017 article discussing ways credibility is earned. “With it you are solvent, without [it] you are bankrupt.” The enviable state of trustworthiness is made stronger through one’s credibility — reliability, integrity, and the ability to inspire belief.

Anti-American philosophies that mock faith, patriotism, and a good work ethic have infected our institutions, which, because they cannot be trusted, lose business and must be funded by taxpayers. These institutions should not be surprised when the American people are angered by their failure, conniving, corruption, and deception.

At the same time, there’s an awakening of Americans who realize the greatness of this amazing land. Millions are becoming wise to the garbage being peddled as truth and will fight those who beat down America while profiting from her greatness. But trust doesn’t come with a refill. Institutions that are important to our society are populated with individuals who have lost credibility and trustworthiness. To rebuild, we must encourage the next generation of leaders to rise up and step in with the currency of credibility and truth that returns integrity and trust to so many of America’s critical institutions.

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