Trust is defined as an expectation that Government, employers or friends do the right thing. Trust is the building block of any relationship. Successful marriages will often cite trust as the foundation for their success. Trust is based in faith, in that my expectations are met. I trust my doctor to be skilled and knowledgeable, as I trust my employer to follow whatever laws are associated with my employment.

Trust is an expectation on my part. Nothing more, nothing less.

A person can have high, low and unrealistic expectations that hinder trust. Worse, in many cases, trust can be lost if expectations are not met.  Once trust is lost, regaining trust is hard, and it’s incumbent on the person who did not live up to expectations to work to that end. One could argue that perhaps expectations can be lowered, but it has been my experience that once trust is lost, expectations only grow.

A lot of us have lost trust in our government, our media and our scientists. Our relationship with those entities has been damaged, some believe beyond repair. That damage can be attributed to unrealistic expectations on our part, or it can be their fault for not living up to our expectations. I believe it’s a combination of both. First, as Americans, we should have the highest expectations of those involved in our government, our media and those involved in scientific research. Second, high expectations are not the same as unrealistic expectations. A unrealistic expectation is a total ban on firearms as opposed to a belief that a mentally unstable person should not be allowed to own a firearm.

Another tenant of trust is accountability. What are the repercussions of breaking trust? In a legal matter, there are laws that cover broken contracts. The only accountability that exists for politicians is our vote. For media, it is shame, and that result is usually a buried apology. For scientist’s it is peer review, backed by facts. Essentially, there is little accountability.

That frustration is evident on social media. As such, people look to shame those they perceive to have broken their trust. Shame is a powerful thing when it comes to our human experience. Yet, when it’s associated with half-truths, outright lies and unrealistic expectations, shame loses its power to motivate people to change their behavior.

With little accountability, and an inability to be motivated by social media, why would our politicians, our media, our scientists’ change? What other factors come into play to effect the change that is needed, to regain our trust? A financial impact would force, I hope, deep reconsideration of policies, but that’s not going to happen. Each of us has a vested interest in the politicians, our chosen media sources, and our belief in our scientists.

And there’s no indications people will be lowering their expectations. In fact, expectations are zoning in on unrealistic levels. No one wants to give up their beliefs, doing so gives power to those who oppose those beliefs.

Of course, the common belief is the answer starts with politicians, but the problem is, they have their expectations as well, and like you, they will not give up their belief for fear of a loss of their power.

Of course, the solution to that problem is setting down over coffee and talking, communication is key, but when both sides are not willing to give anything up, even to gain the others trust… Well, we are experiencing the result.

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