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A good sense of trust is hard to find

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By Meaghan Downs

Trust is becoming as rare as floppy disks these days.
Both are relics for a future museum. I envision the working title: “Things Americans Once Used and Threw Away.”
Other exhibits will showcase print volumes of the dictionary, instructions for dinner etiquette and glass milk bottles.
Trust in anything — churches, media, banks, government, school districts — is becoming harder for people to commit to.  
As a self-declared commitment phobe, it’s not surprising that I find it more difficult to believe in trust as an adult.
In many ways, too much trust in one person or organization will prevent me from doing my job as a reporter.
But any relationship builds its foundation on the faith that is trust.
You trust babysitters, daycares and schools with your children. Your car with your bodily safety. Your bank with your money. Your church with your soul.
Remove all trust from your belief system and soon you won’t be able to open your front door.
As a writer, it’s imperative that I establish the same faith and trust with the reader. You are now reading this sentence, word following word following the previous word, with the trust that I am not lying, that every sentence in this column comes from an original and heartfelt place.  
Not to worry, this column comes straight from my own brain to the page in front of you.
But once you peak into the idea of what trust really and truly means to us today, it’s a quick descent down the rabbit hole.
My obsession with the current definition of trust began with my self-centered thinking about the state of the media.
Recent polls reported that distrust of the media, the fourth estate, is at an all-time high (Gallup stated 60 percent of Americans have very little or no trust in the media in 2012, compared to the 54 percent who did trust the media from 2002-2004).
Not only does this worry me personally — as someone who strongly believes in the absolute necessity of strong media presence for a strong society — but it worries me as a citizen of the country, and of the world.
I suppose I could find more tangible things to worry about, but trust is No. 1 on the menu this week.
To what lengths will we doubt? And once trust is gone, can we ever get it back?
With the presidential race drawing to a close (I know I will breathe an exhausted sigh of relief once it is over), voters must make a choice that surpasses thoughts about Romney’s stance on the middle-class or Obama’s overall job performance: whose name you trust on the ballot.  
It’s not just the president; we also need to concern ourselves with those on the state and city level, evaluate our level of trust in their platform, in their ability to listen to their constituents.
And if one or the other candidate betrays that trust to an already distrustful and skeptical American public, what will that mean for political discourse?  
The lack of trust is not just in politicians. It’s for authority of any kind, of any degree of power.
It’s not surprising, therefore, to see thousands of people all over the country gathered through the Occupy movements to protest authority in the form of the “1%.”
When we hand people a sense of power over us, a silent agreement has been struck.  
Break that agreement, and you’ve lost your voice. You’ve lost the ability to speak genuinely to people who will listen.
And that includes me, as a reporter. This paper has a whole.
If the media can’t find a means of regaining trust, that entity is endanger of losing its voice entirely, losing a means to get important and critical information out to readers and listeners.
That is, if the American public is still open to listening.  

Become a fan of The Anderson News on Facebook by searching “The Anderson News” in the Facebook search bar to receive updates. For news tips or column ideas, contact staff writer Meaghan Downs.