Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Most of us aren't trustworthy.

In my previous post, I wrote about the worth of an opinion. How much do we trust the opinions we hear? How much credibility do we attach to what other people say, or write? In today's fractured, contentious American society, trust does not come easily.

Tea Party loyalists have a variable pantheon of people they trust. Sometimes a person can start out in the "Trusted" column, only to say or do something that doesn't reflect some set of conservative values, and they immediately get dumped by the loyalists for someone else. Litmus tests determine if a politician is a "conservative in name only."

Liberals are bent out of shape that the administration hasn't done more to advance a progressive agenda. Their support for President Obama has been shaken; some progressives have abandoned any hope that their favorite ideas will see implementation any time soon. The president's approval numbers show this starkly.

Middle-of-the-road voters, the moderates, are in a conundrum. Who should they vote for in November? Who should they believe? It's possible that many will be so alienated by the extremists on both sides of the political divide that they will just sit out this election entirely.

Who do you trust to deliver the goods?

I'm going to say right now that I'm with the folks who don't trust much of anyone to deliver what they promise. I'm not saying that I don't believe in some of the president's initiatives. I'm saying I don't believe he can bring them about. For all his oratory skills, for all his efforts to strike a note of bipartisanship, the president is saddled with a climate where immediate, visible results are what's demanded. People aren't seeing many of these. Consequently, the administration can't be trusted.

Corporations can't be trusted. Let's see if BP can recover from the mess they've made in the Gulf. Fancy public relations campaigns won't do it, eloquent spokespeople won't do it. The only thing that will bring them back from the brink will be success in stopping the leak, and cleaning up the oil. So far, there's little visible evidence of that, at least on the media.

Ah, the media... The 24-hour news cycle that seems to be the legacy of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, which contributed so enormously to Ronald Reagan's election victory, is the bane of my existence. Chattering pundits, talking heads, opinionated buffoons, twenty-four hours a day these blabbermouths tell us what the hell they think of this issue and that issue and the next issue. And we the viewers eat it up. My one respite is the OFF switch on the TV; I can shut these people up at a whim. Do you trust your reporter, columnist, or interviewer of choice? Really?

So who does this leave? Friends and family, who listen to the same news you do, who have the same preconceptions you do, who are in one way or another just as prejudiced as you are? Priests and ministers, who are concerned with how much is in the offering plate, or how many volunteers will sign up for the next workday at church, as well as with the integrity of their spiritual lives, and perhaps some deep, dark secret they just can't confess? Teachers and scientists, who are the conveyors of fact and wisdom and exploration of the world, and who have been shown again and again recently to have made up out of whole cloth their scientific research?

Who are we to trust? Whose opinion can we truly believe?

Well, I've made no secret in these posts that I view the world from a Christian perspective. One thing I've come to realize over the last dozen or so years is that Jesus the Messiah is not an American conservative. He puts little value on the ownership of private property, which appears to be the ultimate good in a lot of conservative and libertarian minds. In fact, he's downright socialist in his attitude about what property should be used for. He's not a proponent of military force, or gun ownership, or "American exceptionalism," for that matter. He would undoubtedly stir up the sweaty wrath of a Rush Limbaugh or the swoony conspiracy theories of a Glenn Beck, if he were to make statements in today's media. He said as much, when he walked the earth, that he was here to create division, not to smooth things over and make everything shiny and happy - at least not immediately. Jesus was here to upset the apple cart, and bring about a new kingdom.

We Christians have spent the last two thousand years trying to build that kingdom, with extremely variable success. Some things, like the Crusades, have been unmitigated disasters. Others, like the abolition of slavery in so much of the world, have been shining successes. Much work remains. So much of this world remains the shit-pile that Jesus found when he lived. Much work still must be done, by people of good will and a spirit like that of their Boss.

I don't know who anyone else trusts. I don't put much trust in other people, because they're just human beings, and their intentions can be thwarted, derailed by opposition, or killed all together. I don't even trust myself all that much. I want to do one thing, but find myself doing another. So who should I trust?

I'm going to say here and now that I will continue to trust in that man who lived in Judea two thousand years ago, that Man who preached the Good News of God's love and grace for His creatures and His Creation. I will trust in that one Man who more than any other person in history has changed the world. We are all heirs of His, adopted into the Family of His Father. Oh, we're like black-sheep brothers and sisters, but we still get invited to the banquet. I have faith in Him, and faith, as all Jesus-followers know, is believe in things unseen.

Am I delusional? Foolish? Only time will tell.

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