Former Secretary of State George Shultz on Trust

This is part of what ought really to be called ‘things I learned while reading other things.’ I’m getting enough mileage on the old experience clock these days that most everything reminds me of something else. This particular trip down memory-lane was occasioned by a Bret Stevens piece in the NYTimes titled Donald Trump and the Damage Done.

There certainly has been damage to both Right and Left

No doubt of that and one can debate which side got the worst of it, but the fact is that what disappeared over the American horizon was trust. I don’t trust Donald, nor does he trust me. Chuck Schumer doesn’t trust Mitch McConnell and no one trusts the Supreme Court. It goes on and on, this lack of belief in one another and the list is as long as you care to make it.

A momentary pause now as we listen to George

This snippet I selected came from a most extraordinary essay by George in the Washington Post. He celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday and writes of his experiences learned in WWII combat, labor disputes threatening the steel industry, the MLK years in civil rights and working with the Soviet Union in the efforts of successful negotiation.

Trust,” he writes, “is the coin of the realm.”

“When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen.”

“Everything else is details.”

There’s a century worth of paying attention by a thoughtful and powerful man in that last sentence.

Everything else is details

We haven’t lost the America we value, we’re merely in the throes of having to thrash out the details. It’s not a disaster, it’s a wake-up call. We need to pay attention to the room we’re in and see if we can’t rebuild trust with our partners, our kids, teachers, police and politicians. That isn’t done by conspiracy theories and beliefs in the deep state, nor is it accomplished by relying on only MSNBC, Fox News, Facebook or Instagram for our understanding of America.

Social media gives us concentrations of prejudice

The internet and social media aren’t going away, nor should they. They give the little guy voice, but too often that voice is a scream. Half the nation is angry with the other half and all of us are fed up with politics. Deconstruction is the beginning of reconstruction and I’ve always felt Americans were at their best with their backs against the wall.

That’s where we are right now, backs against the wall. We ought to be able to build something useful out of that.


Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

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