our collective deficiency

Iron. Calcium. Vitamin D.

We are deficient of all sorts of nutrients.

To be clear, a nutrient is defined as “a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.”

Allow me, therefore, to suppose this day that we have a more significant, collective deficiency than any of the above…  

We have a trust deficiency.

Trust is vital. Believing in the reliability, ability, or strength of another is crucial to how we thrive and survive as a society. It’s “essential for growth and the maintenance of life.”

Said management expert, Stephen Covey: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

It’s the foundational principle that holds together all relationships, institutions, and entities.

Without it, relationships, institutions, and entities fall apart.

But understand that trust isn’t defined by like thought, look, or behavior. To believe we can only trust another who thinks, looks, or behaves like self would equate to having fallen prey to a hollow and deceptive philosophy. Contrastingly true, to believe that simply because another thinks, looks, or behaves like self makes them trustworthy is also deceptive.

The challenge, no less, with the existence of a trust deficiency is that trust is one of the only healthy on-ramps to conflict. And let’s face it: we live in a time of seemingly unprecedented conflict. We live in a season of rampant strife, division, and uncertainty. The 24 hour news cycle is disconcerting. People are fighting; and social media is a verbal landmine field. Conflict reigns.

Hear me clearly, no less. I do not believe that conflict is inherently negative. In fact, I would contend it’s necessary, as good things come from conflict. That is, good things come from conflict when the dissension is not mean-spirited, belittling, or contemptuous. 

In other words, if we were willing to eschew the mean-spiritedness, belittlement, and contempt, perhaps we could solve some of our current socio-political challenges. We could make progress on the role of government, how big it should be, what can and can’t be legislated…

We could talk about the hard stuff… how we can navigate wisely through the racial friction, what is true and what is not, what’s systemic and what is not…

We could discuss and respect the role of an individual’s faith or lack of it…  how it affects people, how it enters into their decision-making and treatment of others, avoiding fueling any antipathy for the orthodox or other.

Healthy conflict fosters solution.

(Note: if you’re attempting to discern the healthiness of a conflict, know that if at any point, you’re contemplating adding “you idiot” to the end of your sentence, chances are it would be a wise conversation to avoid.)

But all of the above starts with trust.

One of my great discouragements, I would humbly add, is the number of seemingly intelligent people all over the socio-political spectrum who encourage the exact opposite; they implore us not to trust. They are also then encouraging the crippling of our relationships, institutions, and entities.

So allow me to end with a not so neat-and-tidy question. Fair warning: it’s not convenient nor comfortable.

But as one who craves solution, may we each honestly answer this:

“Who do I trust enough to enter into conflict?”