“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway
Sounds easy enough, right? Everyone values trust, whether it’s in the people we know or the faith we believe in. It’s even written on our money and on many an official seal, but what exactly is trust and what brings about trust?
Recent cases of government spying, athletes cheating and lying, and even the George Zimmerman trial prove that finding anything to believe in…to trust…is often difficult. Still, we all yearn to trust and strive to be trusted.
As defined, “trust” can be either a noun or a verb but basically it means the belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. It’s a sense of confidence in an individual or institution and a feeling of reliability and faith. Trust usually involves high integrity, good character, hard work and talent, high morals, honesty, and even leadership. That’s why the findings of a recent survey conducted by the research firm The Wagner Group and “Reader’s Digest” are both revealing and shocking.
In the survey, Americans were asked who they put their trust in. The most trusted man in America? Actor Tom Hanks. The most trusted woman in America? Actress Sandra Bullock. What???? Although I like both Mr. Hanks and Ms. Bullock, it’s a little bit disturbing that they are considered our nation’s most trusted citizens.
Thankfully, the three highest scorers in general were “your own doctor,” “your own spiritual advisor,” and “your own child’s current teacher,” but the fact that the four highest ranked actually named people are actors and that more than half of those named are either involved in the movies, TV personalities, or athletes does not bode well, in my opinion, for our country. Not one member of Congress made the list, nor did any governor. Only two presidents, Carter and Obama (and that fact is a whole other blog!), were included, as were four football players but not one basketball or baseball player. Go figure.
“Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose and the hardest thing in the world to get back.
To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”
As I read that, I think of Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods. People trusted them and loved them but their dishonesty pretty much destroyed their integrity ranking. Yes, you can earn it back once it’s lost, but fool me once…
Trust, like love and exercise, is a truly powerful thing. When one trusts someone or something, their brain actually releases a hormone called oxytocin, which produces happy feelings in humans and triggers the herding instinct that leads sheep to flock together. In addition, a study by Concordia University in Montreal found that babies as young as 14months can differentiate between a credible person and a disingenuous one. If you are a dog owner, you know this to be true of them as well. Man’s best friend can certainly tell who his or her true “friends” are.
Which professions do Americans most trust, according to the Wagner Group and “Reader’s Digest” survey? Here are the top 10:
- Movie stars
- Spiritual leaders
- Talk show hosts
- Professional Athletes
Some good, some bad right? Well, before you pat these survey takers on their backs, consider that TV doctors like Dr. Oz scored higher than bestselling doctors who don’t host their own TV show, and Judge Judy ranked way higher than any of her judicial peers, including all nine Supreme Court justices. If you’re funny and political you are also more likable than if you are a more serious commentator, although Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly scored fairly even. Thankfully, even though you are the highest paid movie stars, you are not necessarily the most popular. Kristen Stewart and Tom Cruise, both box office and salary winners, ranked considerably lower than Bullock or Hanks. And, although Business Leaders barely missed the top 10, coming in at 11, it’s believed Bill Gates ranked high as an individual because of #4, he’s an extremely generous philanthropist.
In a way though, it all makes sense. Remember, the survey did not ask who you admire, but who you trust. Isn’t it hard to trust someone you don’t admire though, and vice versa? However, I certainly admire #6 ranked Steven Spielberg for his filmmaking genius, but I don’t necessarily trust him. I also have a hard time accepting the fact that more people trust Whoopi Goldberg than our own president or Billy Graham. If you look at the entire list, it appears that all you have to do to earn America’s trust is be on television or in film. This growing trend of idolizing entertainers should concern us all (and the subject of an upcoming blog!). I enjoy a Julia Roberts movie as much as the next person and I enjoy watching the Ellen show, but neither of them makes me want to go out and herd up some good feelings.
So who do I trust? I don’t trust easily but I do trust my family and my really, really good friends. I trust God and my faith in Him. Nationally, I suppose I trust Robin Roberts, Bono, Kelly Clarkson, Tim Tebow, Tracy Anderson, Bill O’Reilly, and Pope Francis. How about you? Who do you trust?