A Matter of Trust
Jann Robinson, Principal | 17 May 2019
As we have been in the season of election campaigning it has been interesting to see how the debate has come down to a question of trust. Who can we trust? Who do we trust the most or rather who do we distrust the least?
Trust matters for healthy societies. In our own country the loss of trust has been accelerated by the outcomes of successive Royal Commissions. The Banking Royal Commission led to a decline in trust of financial institutions, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse led to a decline in trust of churches and to a lesser extent schools. The Aged Care Royal Commission is opening up whether we can trust those who are charged with looking after the aged and vulnerable.
Across the Western World, social trust is in decline and has been for some years. A number of commentators hypothesise that it is because of the rise in economic inequality: with the gap between the wealthy and the poor getting bigger and more entrenched. They also are looking at the impact of the rise of technology which allows for wide spread dissemination of discontent and views that are tailored to the recipient based of their browsing history. They ask the question, “Are we all just becoming an algorithm, able to just hear what reinforces our prejudices?”
It matters that trust is declining because it leads to a breakdown in social cohesion. Social cohesion helps to hold societies together. Where social cohesion breaks down, people become more cynical and sceptical, looking to others to prove their trustworthiness. Without social cohesion individuals experience feelings of disconnection and a loss of belonging. Connection and belonging a critical for young people to be able to grow well. They need to have a sense of trust: trust in other people and trust in the way society works.
The desire to promote trust in our students is counter-cultural, yet of significant importance. We want our students to learn to trust so that they have a healthy sense of belonging and connection. Trust is fostered by working with the students to accept difference and, to not only practise inclusivity, but to be inclusive. We need to accept all people, to accept views that don’t agree with our own and to develop empathy which allows us to view the world from the point of view of others. It will be a challenge to respectful discourse, and it will challenge our vulnerability. It will take courage and compassion, but the benefits will be connection and trust.
The well-being of young people is directly linked to their feelings of belonging and connection. The Christian faith at its heart is a call to knowing that belonging and connection is ours though faith in Jesus. There is no greater gift than knowing that you are deeply loved and accepted by God.