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June 10, 2014

Trust No One

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” –John Adams, Notes for an oration at Braintree, 1772

Human beings seem to come in two mindsets – either they are of the “TRUST NO ONE” variety, completely determined to not let anyone get one over on them, or they are the sweet and naïve souls who say we should just “TRUST EVERYONE.” The latter may be more dangerous to happy society than the non-trusters, but neither one is healthy.

I think that, so often, we want to simplify life by making hard and fast rules and then not having to think about it ever again, just following the mantra by rote.

An informed life cannot afford such laziness.

We should have goodwill to all, peppered with a healthy skepticism.

I think Ronald Reagan’s advice is excellent – “TRUST, but verify!” You get both sides of the coin because you do not withdraw from society and engaging with people but you verify that what they seem to be is who they really are. That is a sound path to solid friendships and agreements and relationships.

We all seem to want to have this blind, limitless, confident trust in a leader. That is the infant in us wanting someone bigger and stronger to take care of us. It is a natural desire. Who wouldn’t want to be tended and cared for? We all like a little pampering. It certainly seems a whole lot less strenuous than the struggle we may be undergoing.  Only if you wish to be treated like an infant should you wish for such a leader, or turn over your God-given liberties and responsibilities to another.

The struggle is worth it, building character and muscle and we will be better people for having accomplished something on our own instead of having it handed over to us by some faceless benefactor.

There is only one avenue where trust can run unfettered and free. There it can flow like a mighty river. May we learn to trust in God’s good providence and find courage to keep our own  responsibility with care.

Proverbs 3:5-6, New International Version (NIV): "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.“

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