This blog has been exploring the requirements for rebuilding the foundations of the American Republic. We cannot wait for somebody else to fix things. It is time to stop complaining. We must each stand up and step forward to engage with those around us, regardless of our differences.
Together we need to determine commonly accepted principles and to address the needs of our local communities.
No, it will not be easy. But it must be done. The security of our families requires it, and in an unexpected emergency we will be in trouble without it. Neighbors can be loyal regardless of politics or philosophy. Indeed, where trust can be built neighbors can become dependable friends. But that will not happen without work.
We will talk more about this later, but the important thing to recognize is that when the going gets tough, relationships count. And, I don’t just mean next door neighbors, as important as they are. If we find ourselves under threat, direct or indirect, the last thing we need is neighbors down the road or over the hill who are an unknown quantity.
Here’s the thing: We are not just talking about forming acquaintances and friendships here. This is not about borrowing a cup of sugar over the fence. To rebuild this nation we need dependability. And that means trust.
Yes, well, in the midst of this crisis we find that trust is not something that Americans know much about. Mostly we do not believe in it any more. Therein lays a problem. And, it is a big problem.
Needless to say, we cannot simply start trusting people because we wish to be trusting. The human reality we are starting with is not trustworthy. Most of the people around us do not have a clear concept of what trust means, much less an understanding of why it is important.
So, building trust will take time and continuing attention. We may find it helpful to treat it as a learned concept, but it is not really that complicated. The difficulty lies in our willingness to take initiative, to be patient, to accept differences, and, most of all, to listen to others with genuine interest and curiosity.
This will not happen if we have a self-centered attitude. People can see through that. Our interest must be genuine, or the effort will fall flat. In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“, Stephen Covey wrote:
“If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.”
Americans must proceed with purpose. Trust is about true understanding, dependability, and coming to accept one another as fellow citizens. And, it is a personal responsibility.
I think we can all see how the loss of trust has devastated this country. I hope we can also see why the rebuilding of trust is critical to rebuilding the nation.
And, once we have trust we must be ever vigilant, lest it slip through our fingers.
We must seek trust first for the sake of security in our local communities. But, America is our neighborhood and without stability across the land there will be little we can count on. Ultimately, by asserting the dependability of trust in relationships we will regain responsible governance, stabilize financial institutions, reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit, and form the basis for a vibrant civil society.
In the mean time, there is nothing stopping each of us from reaching out to the people around us, to become thoroughly acquainted as human beings and begin to rebuild the foundations wherever we are.
Without trust no foundation can be built and we are lost in quicksand.