As Occupy Wall Street starts copycat protests around the globe I can’t help but think it is part of a wider trend, a trend that is fundamentally about trust. A lack of trust at every level of society is behind some of the movements we are seeing in finance, politics and the economy today:
- Banks don’t trust businesses enough to lend to them.
- Employees don’t trust their companies won’t lay them off next month.
- The electorate don’t trust that their governments are doing things for the right reasons or that the economy will get better anytime soon.
- The 99% don’t trust that the 1% will pay their fare share of tax.
- Ratings agencies don’t trust that national governments will enact the fiscal measures to get their debt problems sorted.
The lack of trust is so deep-rooted and pervasive at the moment that it will take many years for the situation to correct itself. Like Chekov says ‘you must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible’. For many life is tough just now and our political, financial and social structures are buckling under the distrust. Like any relationship, rebuilding that trust will require that governments, politicians, bankers, companies and individuals speak honestly and openly. We’ve become so use to spin and untruth’s in recent years that this on its own would require a major paradigm shift in thinking. It also requires that all parties treat each other with a little more respect. When a politician attacks another simply to make a cheap point it devalues both of them and the valuable role they can play in making lives better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that self-trust was the first secret of success. Mother Teresa expressed it more beautifully by encouraging us to ‘Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement’. On our own we may not be able to control tax systems, the markets or employment levels but we can work on trusting ourselves to do the things that make the world around us just that little bit better.