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We need to talk

by Richard Lee from Unsplashed

According to a new Pew Research Center report - - Americans have lost trust in the institutions that govern them, the journalists that cover them, the business leaders they depend on, and each other. We are in a crises and very few in power have either the know-how or will to do anything about it.

The new survey of 10,618 U.S. adults, conducted Nov. 27-Dec. 10, 2018, using the non-partisan Pew Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel, covers a wide range of trust-related issues and adds context to debates about the state of trust and distrust in the nation.


"Two-thirds of adults think other Americans have little or no confidence in the federal government. Majorities believe the public’s confidence in the U.S. government and in each other is shrinking, and most believe a shortage of trust in government and in other citizens makes it harder to solve some of the nation’s key problems."

"Moreover, some see fading trust as a sign of cultural sickness and national decline. Some also tie it to what they perceive to be increased loneliness and excessive individualism. About half of Americans (49%) link the decline in interpersonal trust to a belief that people are not as reliable as they used to be."


"Some 64% say it is hard to tell the difference between what is true and not true when they hear elected officials; 48% say the same thing about information they encounter on social media."

"About two-thirds (69%) of Americans say the federal government intentionally withholds important information from the public that it could safely release, and about six-in-ten (61%) say the news media intentionally ignores stories that are important to the public."

"Americans also are split on whether they can rely on others to reconsider their views after learning new information (49% have at least some confidence, 50% little or none), stay informed about important issues and events (49% vs. 51%) and respect the rights of people who are not like them (48% vs. 52%)."


"Asked about the best way to navigate life, 71% say it is better in most situations for people to work together with others."


Trust is the basis for all connection, without it we wither and die. Without trust we can't work together. Without trust we can't abide by the same sets of laws or ban together to defend the laws worth defending. There is no basis for shared belief because both the facts and fictions we depend on to rally around common cause cease to exist. We become isolated, resigned and ready to blame.

The real thing to worry about is not deficits, politics, human rights of international affairs. The real worry is the loss of dialogue - the basis for finding the common ground that suggests that everyone is worthy of being part of the process, that everyone has something to offer as well as something to gain - that we are in this together and only together will we make this work.

If we want to reclaim our country, if we want to restore our values, if we want to be part of something worth fighting for then we need to have a real conversation about trust. Because if we follow the trends described by the Pew study we will soon find ourselves in a place that is hard to come back from.


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