Opinion: Balancing the scales of trust


Stephen Covey, author of the seminal “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is attributed with positing that, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” In the book, which incidentally has sold more than 20 million copies since its first printing in 1989, he argues for character as the human Polaris rather than building or following a cult founded only on personality. There are many more expert Covey readers, but his premise seems iron clad. Trust is essential. Trust is a force multiplier. Trust may not be required but it sure makes life easier.

The form that such confidence might take is nearly limitless. We might trust a child to be responsible, or a caregiver to administer medications, or a taxi driver to deliver us safely, or a soldier to protect our sovereignty, or a teacher to help educate our citizens, or a politician to keep our interests front in their hearts. Each is a distinct variation of the type. As such, they uniquely hold a corresponding bit of real estate in our conscience and well-being. Therefore, the betrayal of that trust will influence both the mundane and grand elements of our existence. Good faith lost by a child that didn’t wait to eat their dessert, and we can recover by letting them mature a bit before giving them another shot, maybe a day, week or month. If fractured by a grown adult, the repair is more complex and elusive.

What is the obligation of the one who betrayed the trust and of the one harmed? Should we be less trusting or they be more responsible? Should we have been more explicit in the confidence, or they more protective of the information? Trust us, it is complicated.