Recently Reader’s Digest polled over 1,000 Americans to come up with a list of the 100 most trusted individuals (Courtenay Smith and Alison Caporimo, “Reader’s Digest Trust Poll: The 100 Most Trusted People in America,” RD.com).
Number one on the list was the actor Tom Hanks. I’ve enjoyed a number of his movies over the years and he comes across as a pleasant enough man, but the most trusted person in America?
I love the game show Jeopardy. Now I know why. Its host Alex Trebek is ranked as the 8th most trusted person. I like his wry wit and dignified demeanor, but a game show host the 8th most trusted person in America?
In fact of the top 10, seven are connected to the entertainment industry. What does this say about the state of our society?
I found it interesting that people who should be leaders of society and trustworthy were ranked so low. I had to go all the way to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at number 36 to find someone currently serving in government. Unfortunately Judge Judy at 28 is more trusted than a sitting judge on the Supreme Court.
Religious leaders fared even worse. Billy Graham came in highest at 67.
Business leaders caught a break with Bill Gates. He came in at number 7, although I suspect he made the list primarily for his charitable work. After him though the next most trusted business leader is Warren Buffet at number 71.
What does this tell us about our society?
First, it tells me how fixated on entertainment we are that actors seem to be the most trustworthy group in the country. Think about that! People who are paid to play a role and make us believe they are something they are not, are the most trusted in America. We feel so attached to them and think we know them so well that we actually are willing to say we trust them.
Secondly, it tells me that we have a famine of honest leadership, and that the people we should want to trust have disqualified themselves from earning it. It seems we see corruption and dishonesty at all levels of government. On top of that our political system has become so toxic that even when there is no wrongdoing each side seems intent on destroying the reputation of the other.
With all the business scandals that have occurred over the last decade it’s certainly understandable that business leaders overall are not trusted. The world of religion has also had its share of shameful conduct.
So who do we trust?
We all have people close to us we should trust such as a spouse, family members, close friends but people make mistakes and even in those relationships trust can be damaged. Some are so hurt by betrayals of trust that they go through life with “trust issues”.
If anyone should have had trust issues it was the ancient King David of Israel. He was betrayed over and over by those close to him. King Saul brought him into his inner circle and later tried to murder him. David was also betrayed at different times by a wife, by sons and by trusted friends.
He also knew what it was like to be the betrayer of trust because he had a close friend killed to cover up committing adultery with his wife.
Yet David knew where he could place his trust and put it in music. He wrote “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10)
David understood people, including himself, were not where he should put his ultimate trust but instead he needed to place his trust in God.
So I ask again, who do we trust?
If we place our ultimate trust in people we will be disappointed. However when we get to know our Lord and Creator we will find like King David did, that is where our trust belongs.