Point taken: Your takes on trust

A summer camp monitor looks after children (Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images)
A summer camp monitor looks after children (Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images)

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Trust is a bond. It holds everything from families to entire nations together. But are we living in a world where those bonds are breaking?

In our five-part series Essential trust, we explore how trust is created, from the neural networks of an individual human brain, to institutions and societies at large.

To better understand what trust is and why we need it, we asked listeners this question in the On Point VoxPop appIf you’ve lost trust at one point in your life and had to rebuild it, what did it take to do that?

Here, some listeners share how they rebuild trust:

Megan in Vermont  

Megan Roy is a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Vermont. She shared with us how growing up with an abusive father impacted her view of trust.

Growing up, my dad was an abuser and an addict, and he spent a handful of years in jail when I was growing up. And then when he was out of jail, still up to no good, essentially.

Megan says she always had a relationship with her father. But the relationship was uncomfortable, and she did not trust him.

For a while, she did not speak to him at all. But, after six months or so, she decided to reestablish the relationship on her terms.

I'm super strict. Like, if he wants to be in my life, he has ... to behave as if he deserves to be there. And over time, it's really, truly rebuilt this trust. I'll never, ever, ever, fully trust him. But I trust him enough to let him have a relationship with my daughter.

I trust him enough to come to my home and spend time with us. And honestly, he's been pretty consistent, more consistent than he's ever been in my whole entire life. And so that's how I rebuild trust. I burned the relationship down. And then I built it to my own standards.

Cassandra in Norwich, Vermont  

Cassandra says she lost trust in many Americans whose votes she can't comprehend. She also says she's lost hope in the even bigger number of Americans who do not vote at all.

I've lost complete faith in my fellow Americans. Not all of them, but a significant number of them. [I don't] even know that we can ever rebuild that America. There's too many people who want to do damage. And I know it's a very small portion of the population considering, but they're a large part of the voting population. How do we fix that?

Jonathan in Boston  

Jonathan Carey Goodell says the Alcoholics Anonymous program is a model example of a place people can build back trust.

Al-Anon is a great program for building back trust. I think it does this by inviting its members to do what they are ready to do, and then it gives them a place to see others making progress daily or weekly.

And it has this great idea of serenity, almost a magical idea that it's about the capacity to be happy even when others in the family are unhappy or stuck. So, I think as hope grows, a capacity for trust deepens.

Aurora in Santa Cruz, California  

Aurora Cruz says rebuilding trust is only possible when the person or institution deemed untrustworthy changes their behavior.

Rebuilding trust starts with a sincere apology, but the real work is done when your actions back up your words. If you say you're sorry, but then you keep making the same mistake or keep following the same pattern of behavior, it's basically impossible to rebuild trust. 

Samelia Adu-Gyamfi in Columbus, Ohio

Samelia told us that her trust in the American democratic system is not what it once was.

For an immigrant that had a lot of trust in the American system, in the American democratic society, currently my trust in democracy has [been] shaken, just by witnessing what is going on within the United States and democracy in itself. The fundamental root of democracy, which the United States is built on right now, is shaken by our own trust in the system.

Dakota in St. John's, Newfoundland

Though she lives in Canada, Dakota is American and has talked with friends who have chosen not to vote about why they don't trust the system.

A common argument she hears is that one vote doesn't matter. But Dakota says she's come to a different conclusion.

Imagine how voting changes you. And how trusting in this system …. if you want to believe in this, if you want to be personally living in a democracy where people have say, then the most important thing to do is trust in that idea. And if you vote and ... are an active participant in your community, in your country, that will for your sake, be better for the world that you want to live in.

I like that idea because it flips trust as this external thing that we offer other people, because they deserve it, or institutions because they've earned it, and instead put it into a more inwardly focused view of, well, I'm going to trust in the things that I believe in, that I want to see in my world, because there is no other way.

Sydney Wertheim Associate Producer, On Point
Sydney Wertheim is an associate producer for On Point.



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