This post is, oddly enough inspired by an article in USA Today, Now USA, which is really nothing more than MSNBC in print, doesn't usually have much content that merits attention, but my eye was caught by an article titled "Poll, Americans Don't Trust One Another." The surveys purports that only 1/3 of Americans trust each other, down from half in 1972.
The author then cast about for a culprit in all this, blaming economic conditions,Television, 24 hour news, and of course, being USA Today, Watergate and Vietnam. (And by extension the Republicans.) What apparently cant be considered is the fact that people simply are more dishonest and less trustworthy than they were before.
Interestingly, the author does not see the problem in terms of the decline in honesty, but in peoples lack of will to trust. An example of this thinking is found when he states"In fact, some studies suggest it's too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person's lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war."
and "The best hope for creating a more trusting nation may be figuring out how to inspire today's youth, perhaps united by their high-tech gadgets, to trust the way previous generations did in simpler times."
Seemingly in the authors eyes trust is in itself a virtue apart from circumstances. I think that most people, if they were surrounded by people they know to be dishonest, would regard mistrust as common sense. The reality is that our culture has abandoned its roots in Christian Theism. With those values lost all concepts of objective moral truth also vanish. People more and more are experiencing no qualms of conscience when they do wrong. Consequently more wrong, both in terms of quantity and quality is done. Mistrust is the natural outcome of this.
Look at our Cinema and Television. Programs like The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, or the films of Tarantino/ Postmodernism prevails. There are no truly good people. The heroes (if any, are little better than the villains. Look at the music with its glorification of criminality. Look at the Universities with their promotion of a relentless materialism. As Solzhenitsyn tellingly observed, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
The reality is we are right to mistrust each other. We are from the moment of conception carrying within our natures the effects of the fall, including dishonesty and treachery. With the departure of the restraint of Gods Common grace acting in men's consciences and more importantly the saving grace of God with the transforming Grace of His Spirit, we can only adopt the old motto, "In God we Trust All Others Pay Cash."