Joe and Mary are intelligent, well-educated, and compassionate people. They find each other and fall in love. A furious development of new neurological connections takes place in each of their brains, as each obsessively absorbs every detail about the other. Hormones and neurotransmitters go to work to ensure that each has eyes only for the other.
They plan a life together—two kids, financial security, plenty of time for travel—and get married. Each has perfect confidence that the other will work for the best interests of the family and (being perfect) never make a mistake.
Six months later, Mary’s pregnant (a little earlier than they expected) and Joe’s job is in jeopardy. Doubts have begun to creep in on both sides. Joe wonders if Mary can love a child and him, too. Mary’s beginning to wonder if Joe will be able to provide the financial security they both assumed they would have. The doubts begin to multiply—as doubts do—and six months later one of them files for divorce.
Trust is an essential element in all human relationships—individual and familial, public and private. Where trust is lacking, little or no progress can be made toward solving problems and achieving mutual goals.
And trust is a choice we make. Both Mary and Joe could have decided to give the relationship more time, to be patient, to maintain credibility long enough to see whether their collective projects—the child, prosperity, and the growth of their relationship—would pan out in the real world. Instead, they chose to bail.
There are parallels worth exploring between a marriage and the relationship of responsible citizens of a democracy with their elected government. One revolves around the issue of trust: it always takes time to be sure who you can trust and in what areas.
In a comment on yesterday’s post, “Sisyphus” asked,
Did you feel this confident trusting the experts when Bush/Cheney were the experts?
No, because I didn’t vote for them and didn’t regard them as “experts” on any of the matters most important to me. I didn’t see Bush choosing people highly qualified for the posts to which he assigned them. However, I have to say that, even so, I gave the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not sorry I did, because I know that deep distrust without reason can be counterproductive and pathological. And in all fairness, few people at the time could have predicted just how disastrous the outcome would be.
In my ignorance, my biggest concern about Cheney at the time was his heart condition and the risk to stability if he ever became president. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I wanted to trust Bush—with his military background and familial connections—to do the right things to protect the country. The benefit of the doubt is one thing, however, and blind faith is quite another. I quickly lost faith in Bush/Cheney, as did we all, and it was all down hill from there.
Bush/Cheney had eight years to betray and lose the public trust. The evil fruits of their labor were, by that time, apparent for the world to see. The chief architects of the eventual Obama legacy are just now taking their chairs. In the interest of supporting those things the administration may do well, I think it’s right—maybe not easy, but right—to give it the benefit of the doubt.
The government, after all, is only people. And as we know from our own private lives, some are trustworthy, and others are not.