I'm running late to the airport. I think about a news story I heard on the radio that U.S. air carriers had more on-time flights in the past year. That has not been my experience of the past 12-months, however I still hurry my butt best I can through security and to the gate. I make it to the gate on time only to see that the flight is delayed an hour. I look for somewhere to hang my hat and put up my feet but nothing looks accessible. O'Hare is packed with people. To pass the time I head to a newsstand and flip through magazines, newspapers, and books. I purchase a $5 bottled water, a USA Today, a Men's Health magazine, and some M&M's. Don't judge; I'm hungry and something about the stress of travel drives me to eat chocolate!
To pass some time I walk slowly through the terminal. Although the airport is busy, it feels relatively calm. Airports are a means to an end. They are necessary, and on this day people seem to be tolerating the experience. I see a young family, smiling and relaxed. I remind myself to take a pleasure trip with my wife and two boys soon. Business travel is overrated. I don't keep track of frequent flyer miles, points, or rewards. The only metric I care about when flying is getting from point A to B, safely. Sure the perks of redeeming miles for stuff or lower airfare is appealing, particularly for a small business owner. But I'm more compelled to stay alive than to save a buck or two.
My time is up. I get back to the gate and board the plane. The plane taxi's and takes off. The plane reaches altitude and hits some turbulence. I think about the Malaysia Flight 370. I say a prayer in my mind. I shift my attention to something more pleasant. But the next thought flooding my brain is how there have been unmanned aircraft (drones) and near-air miss collisions with commercial jet liners which have happened in the past year. I'm flying to Syracuse, NY and know that Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY tests drones as part of their operations and affiliated research. My thoughts move to all of the people, systems, and technology that we put a great deal of trust into in the airline industry, from the TSA inspectors to those that serve us coffee, check our bags, and fly the planes.
To turn my mind off I turn to the newspaper I purchased at O'Hare. In political news, Democrats and Republicans remain polarized. In sports, ongoing drug-testing is being called for in professional sports. In religion, the Pope is on a mission to repair years of reputational damage to the church from unethical and immoral activities among priests. In the op-ed section, a married man going through divorce offers perspective on gay-marriage. In national news a 90-year-old man was arrested for working as a drug mule for a Mexican cartel. He was, by the accounts of those that knew him, kind and authentic. International news is littered with U.S. diplomacy trials and errors and confusing-at-best accounts of new splinter terror organizations. I'm left feeling bewildered and overwhelmed. I turn to reading the cartoons. They are cynical, curt, yet funny. I should have read Men's Health but thought it would have only made me feel deflated for having eaten my M&M's and for skipping the past two weeks of my exercise routine.
There is a devastating trust deficiency running rampant in society. It's everywhere you look. It's in the White House and the "Big House." It's in social media and mainstream media. It's in the Church, on the court, in the Court, and on the bench! Whether you're getting married, divorced, sued, "liked," punched, kissed, tweeted, hugged, or bandaged up -- trust is part of your daily life. Trust is a 24/7 multi-trillion dollar business that takes no prisoners. Yet as much as we believe we know all about trust, we actually understand very little about how significant it can be to our individual life, not to mention to its influence on all of humanity.
The truth is that there are many factors why people's trust in some of the oldest, and once most trusted, of institutions has been challenged and overturned. Trust is a foundation of all human interaction and experience. It is what shapes marriages, binds business deals, and allows people to believe in God through religion and spirituality. Trust allows humanity to endure. Our institutions of government, religion, and business are being challenged -- not because they are not legit frameworks for society, but because society is questioning whether it trusts the very foundation which constructed the frameworks to begin with.
Too often we look to our surrounding environment and target the obvious indicators, the "low hanging fruit" of a world in disarray and unsustainable growth: income inequality, global poverty, radical Islamists, financial crisis, partisan politics, geo-political tension, spy-scandals, the proliferation of weapons, natural resource inequality and constraints, and so on. Dig deeper and one will see that these are mere indicators of a deeper issue in society called trust.
The biggest hurdle to a more sustainable world is not the indicators that we like to report out on as they make for useful fodder in the board room, news room, and living room. The toughest challenge we have is looking inward and asking, "Do we trust others?", "Do others trust us?", "Do we trust ourselves?" It is hard to put your trust into others, particularly in situations where you feel you are giving up control. But that is exactly what trust is, a giving up of perceived control. None of us truly have control, we are all alive and experiencing the world as it is shaped before us, by our own minds, hands, and clicks.
Humanity is undergoing change. The change is exciting for some and outright scary for others. We don't know and cannot forecast the outcome of every decision we make today. But we cannot be afraid, as citizens and consumers, to stay steadfast in our pursuit of living life with sense of purpose, passion, balance, and resolve. Trust is the underlying bond that binds individuals to individuals, individuals to institutions, and institutions to society. The future of humanity then is very much tied to your actions, behaviors, and impact.
Trust is not to be taken lightly. It is the human equivalent of the Big Bang, it is where our human universe either rapidly expands or contracts. Trust is also a power we give other people. It is also a medium we consciously and subconsciously allow others to use to peer into and access our life through. Life can exist without trust. The question is whether humans will be part of that equation. To trust is to put your faith and confidence in others. To be trusted is to be authentic, true, honest, and mindful. Trust is a two-way street, and like accountability, there is no point in waving the flag or pointing the finger at other parties if you are not living to the ethical conduct and moral code of which you expect of others.
So let others into your world. Let them see who you are, how you think, what you can do. Give up a little control, but gain a future that you mutually define with others. A more sustainable future is being defined each day by those that are working to redefine and reshape the foundation of trust for this generation. It's time to take action to improve our world. It's time to trust!