Losing Trust

April 28, 2023

In today's society, trust seems to be slipping through our fingers like sand. It's a pervasive issue that affects various aspects of our culture, from the medical profession to politics, media, the food industry, family dynamics, and even personal relationships. The erosion of trust has significant repercussions on our civilization, as trust forms the foundation of a cohesive and harmonious society. In my writings, blogs, books, and videos, I can't help but draw attention to the importance of trust in organizations and how its absence can lead to dysfunction, stress, and chaos.

Let's start with the medical profession, where trust in doctors and pharmaceutical companies has been eroding in recent years. Some doctors are marketers of their proprietary products. Their aggressive marketing tactics sometimes involve bad-mouthing other doctors or pharmaceutical companies, leading to a loss of trust in the medical profession. Also, as the government puts limitations on what MDs can charge and be paid by Medicare, to maintain their level of expected income, some ask the patient to come back again and again and even get unnecessary treatments. Patients are left bewildered and skeptical, wondering whom they can truly trust with their health and well-being.

Similarly, in the realm of politics and media, trust has taken a severe hit. Politicians accuse the media of spreading "fake news." The media once considered a pillar of democracy, is now viewed with suspicion as trust in their objectivity and integrity wanes. To attract more eyeballs to their news program, as the number of viewers determines how much they can charge for advertising time, they seek more and more items that stir emotions and attract viewers but can be on the edge of the truth. Political parties engage in mudslinging, with accusations of corruption and dishonesty being hurled at each other. This toxic cycle erodes trust in our political system and in our leaders and undermines the foundations of democracy.

The food industry is not immune to the erosion of trust either. With the rise of genetic engineering and chemical production in our food supply, concerns about the safety and quality of our food have become widespread.

Trust within the family unit has also been impacted by societal changes. With both parents working, the equality of sexes promoted and the children spending more time with screens than with their parents, who has final authority to decide is being questioned. Children often have more exposure to technology than their parents, leading to a reversal of roles, parents are viewed as less capable in handling the TV, the computer or other gadgets. This challenges children’s trust in their parents and children seek validation and guidance from sources outside the home.

The erosion of trust also extends to personal relationships, including romantic partnerships. With the concept of sexual freedom and the acceptance of diverse relationships, trust in romantic partners has become increasingly complex. The idea of being multi-amorous, where individuals engage in multiple romantic relationships simultaneously, has challenged traditional notions of monogamy and commitment. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty in relationships, with trust being questioned and strained as individuals navigate the complexities of modern relationships. The lack of trust is also manifested in the prenuptial agreements. The couple are already thinking how they will divorce when they are just getting married.

The consequences of this declining trust in our political leaders, our doctors, the news, our parents, our food, our marriage partner, are profound and far-reaching. Trust is the glue that holds societies together, enabling cooperation, collaboration, and progress. When trust is absent, social cohesion breaks down leading to polarization, division, and dysfunction. Trust is like oil in the engine of organizations. Without trust, organizations cannot function effectively, and the same applies to society as a whole.

There is however an opportunity here, too. Organizations that can convince they are trust worthy will have an incredible advantage in the market place. And the same holds for politicians, parents, and all others.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes