I didn’t do that! It’s not my fault! – is the refrain of the youngest amongst us. Children soon mature past the instinct to shun responsibility for their actions, understanding that earning trust in the long-term is far more important that avoiding the consequences of their actions today. We come to know as we mature that a scolding for playing football in the house and breaking a lamp is far less severe that growing into a young adult human who is unreliable and distrusted. With trust comes freedom – and goodies. In the history of all new drivers, not one parent has said – here are the keys to the car, son, please know that I don’t trust you to drive it but am going to give it to you anyway. Even this juvenile mind comprehends that earning trust by carrying the responsibility of one’s own actions in earlier encounters leads to significant benefit as the stakes increase. Getting the keys to the family car (and a blessing to drive it) far outweighs the debt paid for other youthful transgressions (being held to account for the broken lamp).
Yet as we age, it seems that some among us become detached from this simple principle. We return to a model more like that of our toddler days – if you can’t prove that I did it, I’m certainly not going to admit it. True, being trustworthy is not required to get a driver’s license in any state. One must pass an eye exam and prove knowledge of the rules of the road; but as adults, we are only fettered by our conscience and youthfully engrained understanding that trust always outweighs the prurient pleasure of getting by with a ruse. Are there times when liars prosper and cheaters win? Sure. But does the victory last?