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Trust, Resentment and Pride- The Lessons of the Pandemic

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." C.S. Lewis

You see it in the eyes. Forlorn and growing distant, some eyes grow misty from the hurt. Then they look away, forced to contemplate the loss of the irretrievable- trust.

We all can recall the very moment we did something that caused someone to lose trust in us. An indiscretion, or even a misunderstanding, lets us see into the hurt eyes of disappointment, whether from a parent, a mate, a child, or a close friend. It is not until we offer a viable explanation or issue a heart-felt apology that trust has a chance of rekindling. It shows that we value our relationships and wish them to continue- not because they must, but because we want them to.

But sometimes, the hurt goes too deep. The trust we once took for granted has been forever lost. Trust can only be regained when we no longer fear the behavior returning. In other words, a lesson was learned.

Unfortunately, some will take their indiscretion and double down. They will attempt to turn the tables and claim to be unfairly misunderstood. That allows them to hoist the ‘victim’ flag and leave the scene as the one who was hurt. Reconciliation becomes nye impossible.

Likely we’ve all experienced these types too. Refusing to take responsibility, they appear unwilling or unable to acknowledge the hurt from the loss of trust they just caused. Self-centered and egotistical, their impulse is to seek shelter in another peculiar human trait- pride.

If able to access our recent experience with a global pandemic as tho hovering from above and resisting strong tribal biases, perhaps we can rewind events and learn from them in the event of another. From what I’m told, there will be another.

But like the individual who fails to take responsibility for their actions that led to a loss of trust, the ability to learn from past events and rebuild trust depends on another peculiar but rapidly disappearing human capacity- humility.

Today, hovering over the debris field of lost trust, we eagerly wait for those responsible for leading us through the pandemic to tell us what they got right and what they got wrong. We deserve to know when it became clear that no amount of vaccine was going to illuminate the virus from the human system. And if they told us to do this or that, knowing it to be untrue, or even if it were a noble lie, perhaps an apology is due.

Like we humans, government institutions are a bit loath to take responsibility. Today, they are mostly silent. If poked, they’ll stutter some blame of those who offered an alternative view and that it was ‘disinformation’ that caused our problems. Instead of apologizing to those they demonized, demonetized, and silenced, who in many cases got it right, they double down and continue to treat us as children unable to distinguish fact from fiction or something useful from gibberish- as if unable to connect the dots. So stuck to their narrative, they continue to punish those who served on the front line. Those doing what they could with the little we knew to save the lives of the most vulnerable.

To those who lost their jobs or took early retirement because they were leary (mistrustful) of the promise of the vaccine, the efficacy of the cloth mask, the closing of borders, or the canceling of schools, Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and every other entity whose impulse was towards tyrannical coercion, should offer at least an apology, if not compensation. Anything less will lead us to another of our peculiar human emotions- resentment.

It is exceedingly important that we as individuals and our institutions take responsibility for our actions if we are to learn from them. And when we get it wrong, we admit to our mistakes, and if our mistakes result in a loss of trust, then to make every attempt to earn that trust back. Anything less would suggest a relationship with the people who pay your considerable salaries to keep us safe and healthy is sadly unimportant.

An honest apology suggests a capacity and willingness to learn. Only when we critically look back and acknowledge our mistakes, can we attempt to write the next textbook on how to survive when visited by another serious virus. It is the bedrock of learning. If we cannot subdue our pride, we are doomed to make the same mistakes.

Trust is a most interesting human need. The loss of trust has possibly led to more tears, anger, and resentment than any other human emotion. Yet, who and what we decide to trust is often done with little knowledge. It led C.S. Lewis to write, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

From our hover, we consider the family and friends who attempted all manner of persuasion to their way of thinking. They either angrily parroted the official narrative or crowed on about some conspiracy. Some went online to demand the government shut down the schools. Some publically attempted to shame others for not joining them in their pandemic fixations on social media. Others cheered when the government and social media companies colluded to shut down the voices of experts. They were the most fearful. Some have grown despondent and no longer wish a relationship.

With the fog of the pandemic lifting, these friends and family have grown silent. No apology is likely forthcoming, nor should we demand one. We need our family and friends, so we extend them an exceedingly rare and peculiar gift- grace. We wish the same from them.

“Grace is a message of unconditional love from the Father of the universe. It’s the free offer of the eternal life. And we can experience it all in the gritty now as well as in the sweet by and by.” – Dudley Hall

Have a great weekend!

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