It seems to me that two words have become of increasing importance of late; one is “trust” and the other is “confidence.” Just so we are all on the same page, let’s take a short excursion into definitions. It won’t be long, so hang in there with me.
“Trust” is one of those words that can be used either as a noun - remember? the name of a person, place, or thing - or as a verb - an action word. As a noun “trust” generally means, “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, character, honesty, or truth of someone or something.”
When used as a verb, “trust” means, “to rely or depend upon someone to do right.”
”Confidence” generally means “faith, belief or trust in somebody or something, or in the ability of somebody or something to act in a proper, trustworthy, or reliable manner.” Got that?
OK, so why the interest in “trust” and “confidence?” Very simply, it’s because folks are losing both trust and confidence in areas where these characteristics are vital. One prime example is the IRS (that Infernal Revenue Service) — the most feared of all governmental agencies. The IRS not only has the power to seize assets, fine people and businesses, and bring criminal charges, it also has immense responsibilities under Obamacare.
Yet, almost daily we find revelation after revelation showing we cannot trust, that is, we cannot rely on the integrity,character, honesty or even the truthfulness of those in charge of this all-powerful agency. Anyone following the Congressional IRS hearings on C-SPAN as I have comes away with a loss of confidence in the IRS — a loss of the belief in the ability of the IRS to act in a “proper, trustworthy or reliable manner” — and that’s scary.
A second example is not so well known, but illustrates the point. For some years high ranking military and civilians in the Pentagon have stated to the media, the public, and Congress that military personnel costs have been “spiraling out of control.”
They have asserted personnel costs are increasing at a rate that is projected to consume up to 70 percent of the military budget and are “eating us alive.” These claims have been used to justify downsizing the active duty force by “firing” large numbers of career military just short of their being qualified for retirement - including some who have received their “pink slips” while serving in Afghanistan.
Other proposals include reductions in pay, allowances, and benefits, including health care for military families - and retired military are also targeted.
A Congressional commission created to review this situation has now reported military personnel costs are not “spiraling out of control” but have remained steady at about 30 percent of the defense budget for the past 30 years and have actually declined in recent years. Noting that both the Pentagon folks and the commission have worked with the same data, one commentator put it this way, “[This] report removed all doubt about who’s been spinning the facts.”
How much trust and confidence do you figure the military and their families have lost in the top brass as a result of this eye-opener?
Fortunately, most of us still have individuals and organizations in which we place our trust and confidence. We generally have confidence that drivers will obey traffic laws and not run red lights or stop signs thus causing an accident. We trust that the mechanics working on our vehicles are skilled and will do the work correctly to make sure our cars are safe. We also trust our friends to keep confidences and not reveal our personal information to others.
On a more personal note, as you are reading this I will be in a hospital undergoing what the medical folks call a “procedure.” Depending on what they find, the “procedure” may take an hour or two and I will spend a single night in the hospital. On the other hand, there is a distinct possibility more extensive and lengthy surgery may be needed which will require an extended stay. I am totally confident in the ability of this team of physicians and other medical professionals to do their jobs “in a proper, trustworthy, or reliable manner.”
What a perfect example of how we sometimes must rely on people we may have met only once or twice - if at all - and who may literally hold our lives in their hands.
You know, despite recent ugly examples in the public sector to the contrary, we still hold fast in our personal lives to the fundamental concepts embodied in the words “trust” and “confidence” - and that’s how it should be.
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.