I’ve been watching the developments south of the 49th, and all the moral panics going around with studied interest. It’s all about America’s ‘love affair with guns’ say some pundits. The violent video games. Violent movies. A sick culture some say. All sorts of reasons are advanced. Mostly the same ones as the last time. I have my own ideas, echoed by the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, some of which can be found here. Specifically in an interview found in Robert Liebermans documentary, “They call it Myanmar“.

There’s a lot wrong down south, and yet there’s not as much as you might think. On the other hand, many south of the border appear to be ‘tooling up’ with gun sales increased across the board. People are ‘prepping’, stockpiling food, water and weapons for some unspecified cataclysm, be it associated with the forthcoming ‘fiscal cliff’ or any of the other putative disasters. The paranoia seems almost endemic. Catching. Self-perpetuating. Reading various forums and web sites, I get the overwhelming sense that people, not just in the USA, but also in Europe, have lost faith with those in authority. They do not trust their governments and its institutions to look after (or rather not interfere so much) the very peoples they are supposed to serve. Nor, it seems, do various factions within those institutions have much faith in each other. See “Plebgate” and associated fallout for one example.

There’s the word – trust. As levels of perceived intrusive security and surveillance rise, so does the paranoia and distrust of the public. Because of the actions of minorities, authorities clamp down on the majority, in the process arousing mistrust. Therefore people feel obliged to protect themselves and buy another gun, another case of ammo, secure the house, stockpile more stuff, dig another hole, find refuge. They see the increase in government agency authority and in an almost Newtonian reaction, try to compensate for the powerlessness this makes them feel. In turn Government expands to address the fears, but the more government power increases, the more regulation, the less it is trusted. The bigger it gets, the more monolithic and frightening it becomes. The more resources it consumes without producing more in return. Like a dying star it becomes too massive and begins to slowly implode into an economic black hole.

North of the border, at least here on the Wet coast of BC, we are encouraged to ‘prep’ for the ‘big one’ with emergency supplies for about 72 hours. Every year there is a public earthquake drill called the ‘Shake-out’. We sometimes take part, sometimes not, but all of my friends and neighbours have a stock of supplies, just in case. At home I can rely on enough food and water for one week, and have reasonable and workable fallback options (Hunting bow, fishing gear, hand tools) should the worst ever happen. Not only that, but I would work with my neighbours to assist them in any way I could. We all know that public resources will be limited in time of emergency, and so we prepare accordingly. There is still a strong sense of community and self reliance here in the Mid Island. Particularly in the more rural areas. What’s more we are trusted, indeed expected, to be so. This appears not to be the case elsewhere.

The truth is that organisations fail when they do not trust the very people they are supposed to serve, or fail to motivate their members enough to be trusted. A classic management failure occurs when those in positions of authority do not listen to anyone outside of their own close circles. They fail when focus groups, lobbying self-interest groups and think tanks direct policy. They fail in their allotted task when they become dishonest, distant and unaccountable. When spin becomes the message. When promises are easily discarded.

Without trust and co-operation there can be no real and lasting social interaction. Without open and free speech there can be no real confidence or trust. Without that honesty, confidence or trust, nations and societies cannot stand. At least not without massive surveillance and repression. And the price for that comes high. Too high.

Unfortunately, by treating other peoples property as public and lying to cover up their own mistakes, politicians and their pet activists lose that trust. No wonder voting is down and gun sales and ‘prepping’ are on the up.

Merry Christmas.

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