World News and Trends: Global distrust of political leaders

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Global distrust of political leaders

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Citizens of the world fear for their safety and security, perhaps primarily because they don't put much confidence in their political leaders. The Gallup International polling organization carried out a survey of some 50,000 people in 60 countries last year. This poll revealed that most nations distrust their politicians in a major way.

Worldwide, a disturbing 63 percent believe their politicians are dishonest. Regionally, Latin America tops the poll with a whopping 87 percent holding that view, followed closely by West Asia and Africa with 84 percent and 82 percent respectively. Germany is not far behind with a surprising figure of 76 percent, considerably above the average statistic in Western Europe at 46 percent.

In the United States and Canada the figure is 50 percent. On the positive side, the mistrust figure is very low in the Netherlands at 12 percent, which means that well over 80 percent of the Dutch trust their politicians to be honest. An incredible 97 percent of Singapore's citizens believe in the honesty of their leaders.

Particularly in the West, there are reasons for the belief that politicians are not only dishonest, but behave unethically. The absence of authority and the erosion of privacy in our e-mail age are two specific reasons.

A Sunday Times writer stated: "We live in an age in which authority is absent . . . In America the decline of authority has been particularly swift. The erosion of privacy means that every public figure has soiled his laundry on the Internet—affidavits and all. Only recently [during the previous administration] the presidency was reduced to evidence about oral sex" (Dec. 5, 2004, emphasis added throughout feature).

One of the great lessons of the Bible is that although we need to deeply respect our leaders, we should not put our ultimate trust in them. The Scriptures teach us that we should trust God. (Sources: Reuters, The Sunday Times [London].)

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