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Restoring trust

To the editor:

Everyone likes to win, but it seems the pain of losing is even more emotionally powerful. Politically charged American voters have experienced both these feelings since 2016. Reconciliation will take effort and compassion. We have allowed our trust in each other to be undermined. I think we are all getting tired of the fighting. 

I believe that the challenges of racism, climate change, economic hardship, and COVID are connected, and the solution to all of them involves addressing our selfishness.  “The love of money is the root of all evil” – 1 Timothy 6:10. This is good news because the solution is clear. Since none of us is exempt from temptation, each of us has work to do.  Every day offers opportunities, and our mistakes are our best teachers. 

Curiosity and listening are essential to healing.  Author Valarie Kaur suggests, when we encounter a stranger, we should think: “You are a part of me I do not yet know.” The more we learn about our opponents, the more we understand about ourselves. Our individual stories are valid and varied, and we have never had a greater opportunity to listen to each other.

As important as it is to feel our personal story has been heard, I think it’s even more important to see ourselves part of a noble cause.  A few of us are leaders, but most of us simply want to follow a good leader.  The key is to align ourselves with an honest person whose vision is expansive and inclusive, someone who inspires us to rein in our competitive instincts in order to serve each other.

Some will say that humans are incapable of connecting to a group larger than family or tribe, but throughout history, religion has tried to do just that.  Certainly our founding fathers believed that people, if accurately informed and involved, can govern themselves.  Through elections, people choose leaders and representatives who enact laws that serve the common good. Once we have chosen our leaders, we trust them to do their best.  If they don’t, we can vote for someone else to take their place.

Trust is the glue that holds society together. I am encouraged to see public participation in local issues, because neighbors teach us to be civil, to ask for help, to share, and to be accountable to each other for our words and actions. Take part, and open your heart!

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