By Kathleen A. McLaughlin
My husband and I were watching the evening news which was, as usual, reporting on all the sadness in the world. The commentary went to politics and the endless disparities. We both sat staring blankly at the TV when my husband says, “You know … it all comes down to trust. The American people don’t know who to trust.” He paused for a moment and then sadly said, “We cannot trust anyone anymore.”
I agreed. He was absolutely right. The following morning, I was lying in bed in that twilight zone between slumber and consciousness. I began replaying the previous night’s conversation in my head. How do we fix this problem? It keeps growing like a category five hurricane chewing up our country and puking out the chunks in a spittoon. Who can I trust?
I cannot trust our governments: not the city, not the county, not the state or the federal government. I cannot trust my city council representative, my county supervisor, my state representatives, my federal representatives, or my local mayor. All of them appear to have hidden agendas, mostly based on making their friends rich. Some claim to care about the working class, but if you do not belong to the good-ol’-boy group or the correct political party, you don’t matter. They certainly don’t care about those of us whose annual income is less than a half of a million dollars or didn’t contribute hundreds of thousands to their campaign. Who can I trust?
I cannot trust our police. The news is filled with stories of policemen soliciting favors from women in exchange for dismissing tickets. I haven’t been able to trust the clergy for a while, or high school coaches, or teachers, or the guy up the street. Who can I trust?
I cannot trust our corporations or the banks. How can I trust a CEO who knows his bank is going to get a bailout several months before it happens and already has plans on how to spend the billions? How can I trust a CEO who arrives at a “bailout” session in his chauffeur-driven limo or his private jet? How many jobs could he have saved by ditching that jet in the Hudson? How can I trust a corporation who gives its outgoing CEO a multimillion dollar bonus after they just laid off 35,000 employees? I thought you only got bonuses for being successful … or do they call that success? Who can I trust?
Of course, we all know we cannot trust the oil companies. For the past 30-plus years they tell us the price of a barrel of oil has risen and, as a result, they need to raise the price of a gallon of gas by 10 cents … and another dime and another dime. It has always amazed me that this happens right before a three-day weekend or spring break or summer vacation. But when the price of oil drops, they lower it a measly two cents. Then they proudly report the highest earning ever and wonder why us working-folk grumble. Who can I trust?
I cannot trust our grocery stores. It shouldn’t be cheaper to eat at a fast-food, heart-attack-waiting-to-happen, full-of-creepy-chemicals restaurant than to prepare slightly healthy food at home, but it is. The grocery stores have obviously learned from the oil companies. Raise the prices, but never lower them. Who can I trust?
Politicians? It’s almost laughable to think we could trust them. They don’t even trust each other. Politicians are the epitome of the idiom “two-faced.” They advocate lower gas prices, but when the prices keep rising, we discover they own stock in the oil companies. They discuss the need for jobs and then we discover they are only referring to jobs in their town at a factory owned by their brother. The politicians (aka representatives) fight against health care benefits when they have the best benefits in town. They don’t pay for anything; not doctors, dentists, vacations, or trips to visit their illegitimate children. They don’t even pay for their spouse and family to join them on a trip to Europe for an international conference. Who can I trust?
Now with campaigns, it has always fascinated me that those in the same political party tear each other apart during the primaries and then miraculously become “buddies” during the final election. Somehow that doesn’t instill a whole lot of trust. How can I have faith in a candidate who cheated on his taxes or one who lied to media? Of course, I can’t trust the media either. Bad news sells, so let’s tell it as “bad” as we can to keep up the ratings. The truth? Let’s just push that under the bus.
The country cannot come together until we have trust. But how can we accomplish that? Is our country capable of finding representatives in law enforcement, theology, education, and government who are capable of the following?
Keeping their pants zipped and/or their legs crossed.
Not being a racist, bigoted, sexist or any other annoying discrimination.
Provide the same benefits for the American people that they enjoy (health, medical, dental, vacation).
The list goes on and on.
I give up. Who can I trust?
—Kathleen A. McLaughlin is a La Mesa resident, artist, playwright and author. Reach her through her website mclaughlinartstudio.com.