Monday, January 16, 2017

Gerry Eckhoff: Trust



I’m not sure why a Christmas message on forgiveness and the negative impacts of anger from columnist Colin James is deemed by him to be more relevant during the festive season than any other time of the year. James writes of the need for trust and even forgiveness of gross harm as the way out of the depressive emotion of anger.  He (James) implies that only through learning to trust again and by being willing to rely on the actions of others and their institutions can society change for the better. 

I suspect very few today would agree with James of the need to perpetuate a failing system based on delegated authority. What however was entirely correct and even more relevant was the response to his article from Gil Elliot - (Otago Daily Times January 6 ) -  father of murder victim Sophie Elliot.

Trust has no face value. Trust is a commodity that must be earned and repeatedly justified but once lost cannot be replaced by a simple Christmas or new year message.  A cursory glance outside the closeted world of journalistic politics will show that the past few decades have shown a marked increase in anti-social behaviours despite the continuance of liberal responses so often advocated for in social commentary.

Trust in our system of justice has taken massive hits in public confidence. Belief, once widespread that the administration of true justice will uphold both the spirit and the rule of law, erodes almost daily. A form of modified “social” justice appears to excuse those who can find all manner of reason to explain their brutal behaviour. While such people are given huge human and financial resources available, the victims and their families are expected to somehow rise above their personal torment on their own. The rape and murder of Kylie Smith in 1991 (Owaka; South Otago) took not only the life of an accomplished young fifteen-year-old but also must have impacted on the premature death of her father some years later. Just how forgiveness and trust are even remotely possible by those directly affected by inhuman behaviour is not understood by most. Forgiveness has been described as a fragrance that a flower sheds on the heel that has crushed it. Many flowers today are bred to look the part but leave no fragrance. (Readers I’m sure can draw their own analogy). 

The public’s continuing erosion of trust is never better illustrated in politics and political systems. The Brexit vote in the UK is all about an almost complete lack of trust in the current liberal political system by those who seek little more than a fair shake of the dice. The election of Donald Trump also paints a very clear picture of a complete lack of trust and anger at a system of elitist governance where individuals and communities’ rights are subjugated to expediency by the privileged few. Even here in NZ, trust in the political party system has all but eroded (see the secret dealings between the National Govt and the Maori Party). At a local level, trust in councils and their council owned businesses is dissipating fast as accountability is shuffled between measures designed to protect those responsible.

Commerce still appears to wonder why investors seek property to secure their future. Simply put, there is an almost complete lack of investors trust in the probity of the financial system that is driving cash into a “safe house” of bricks and mortar.

“Trust the system and loose the anger” is the message from those who advocate for the continuance of the status quo. No thank you to Mr James and to his fellow travellers.  The real message for this new year is that we the people increasingly no longer trust those in authority, which oddly enough Colin James appears not to have noticed, and is being replicated throughout so much of the free world.

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