#3 Finding Trust

This week as I thought about trust, I came to the conclusion that some people have not yet discovered a way to find trust.  I came across an article on Vermont Edition that told a story about a man who “traveled the country, photographing gun owners in their homes and asking his subjects why they own guns.”  Several of the gun owners replied that they kept a gun to keep themselves safe.  One man who the photographer met said, ” At some point words are not going to be enough when people are kicking down your door to pull you out of your house because you’re Jewish, or black or gay.”  This man sadly does not seem to have trust in the world or in humanity.  Studies have been done that have shown that people in homes that have a gun are in more danger than those in homes that don’t.  This article says “some individuals simply don’t trust other people.” This is an unfortunate but true fact that I am hoping to change.

Recently Vermont governor Phil Scott signed an ethics bill for the state.  He said, “This bill is a positive step forward to demonstrate to Vermonters that its elected officials are committed to restoring that faith and trust across all three branches of state government.”  This tells me that people are already figuring out ways to find trust.

I think there are three parties involved with trust:  people who primarily trust, people who primarily fear, and the government.  It is hard to know what each party wants, but I would say that all three parties generally want to go towards peace and happiness.  The people in the government, supposedly, want the best for the people.  Sometimes they have very effective and inclusive ways of achieving their goals and sometimes they have a less inclusive approach.

I believe that trust unites people and fear divides people.  I found a world map that showed the percentages of people in many countries who agreed with the statement “most people can be trusted.”  The percentage for the United States was 38.2 (as of 2014) .  Norway ranked highest with a percentage of 73.7 (as of 2009).  I found this map exceedingly interesting.  The website where I found the map also said that in the past 40 years the levels of trust in the United States are believed to have gone down.  It is thought that a contributing factor to this drop is significantly decreased levels of trust in the government.  I hope that in the future the government and the people can both grow to trust each other.  I believe that most people are afraid, sometimes, and everyone at least has the ability to trust.  I think that even the most fearful of people have a chance of becoming more trusting and even becoming happy and joyful.  I wonder what percentage of Vermonters would agree with the statement “most people can be trusted” and what Vermont would be like if the level of trust went up by fifty percent.



Ortiz-Ospina, Esteban , and Max Roser. “Trust.” Our World in Data, ourworldindata.org/trust#trust-and-social-outcomes. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.

Cassidy, Maggie Brown. “Cassidy: Trust And Mistrust.” Vermont Public Radio, digital.vpr.net/post/cassidy-trust-and-mistrust#stream/0.

Dan Schwartz Jun 14 2017 1 comment, et al. “Scott calls new ethics law a step to restore trust in government.” VTDigger, 14 June 2017, vtdigger.org/2017/06/14/scott-calls-new-ethics-law-step-restore-trust-government/#.WdE7cSaovIV. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.


Featured Image by:  Patryk Sobczak

Sydney Taft Cole

8 Responses to “#3 Finding Trust

  • Hi Sydney,
    I enjoyed reading your post. You have really thought things through about what trust is, why people begin to distrust, and what can bring people together into a whole society. Your information is very clear, and I can see that it has really helped you to develop your thinking. Your writing style was easy and well written. I just had a few questions: Other than the government, what do you think makes people distrust (on a small scale and globally)? Do you trust people (in general)?

    You bring up some interesting points in your post, and I can’t wait to see what you learn through this week!
    Aidan Palmer

    • Hi Aidan,
      Thank you for your comment. I feel that I generally trust people, although I am still working on that. Distrust comes from confusion, ill treatment, and fear, I believe. So if a person lies, steals, or performs any kind of action towards another person that was based out of confusion or fear, or if a similar misdeed had been done to them, maybe that is where the idea of the action came from.

      Great questions, I will continue to think about them.

  • I agree with Aidan, Sydney, about the clarity of your style and information. It’s also clear that you’ve brought several sources together in a coherent, meaningful way that digs more deeply into your issue.

    Your last questions are good ones, and left me pondering a few of my own that perhaps you might find interesting. Is there a genetic component to trust, I wonder? In other words, are some people by their nature more or less predisposed to trust than others? Are there ways to measure trust in individuals aside from self-reporting? Do effective methods exist to help people build trust with one another on a larger scale, or is trust-building something that must be done on a more intimate basis?

    Keep up the good word, Sydney!

    • Thank you, Bob! I appreciate your questions. I, too, wonder about trust being genetic. Maybe it is not passed down through genes, but I definitely believe it is/can be passed down through family traditions and practices. For your second question about if trust levels can be measured other than through self-reporting, I have no idea, but I can imagine that researchers could create surveys that don’t directly ask if people if they trust one another, but ask them if they participate in certain activities that relate to trust and distrust. As for the last question, I think it is easier to build trust on a more person to person level, but I believe that it is possible to build trust on a larger scale as well. That said, I don’t have any data to back up that theory so it is an area that I will have to research and think about. One idea I had was having more social gatherings for employees at businesses. That way coworkers could get to know each other as people rather than just business associates.
      Thanks again!

  • Hi Sydney,
    I thought that this poste was very interesting. I think that it is very cool that you are digging deeper on a topic most of us don’t consciously acknowledge on a daily basis, and how it is important. I found it intriguing that more than half of our country thinks that the general population cannot be trusted/ most people can’t be trusted.
    I was wondering if you have any ideas how to get people to trust one another? Do you know why the majority of people don’t trust each other? What do they have to fear? I am eager to read future posts and I think that your topic is very interesting.
    Thank you,
    – Alex

    • Sydney Taft Cole
      5 years ago

      Hi Alex,
      I think having conversations with people about trust is a way to introduce the idea and maybe provoke thoughts in them to have further conversations. I don’t know why the majority of the US population doesn’t agree that “most people can be trusted”. One thought I have is maybe because of the racial discrimination in the country’s past, people who feel that they are effected by that might still not trust other people. I know for myself that I sometimes fear the unknown, so maybe some percent of the people who didn’t trust might have feared other people because they did not know them and did not know what those people could/would do to them.
      Thank you for your comments!
      – Sydney

  • Hey Sydney!
    I found your post really interesting, and found myself wondering about the concept of trust in new ways after reading it.
    One thing I thought may be cool is looking into specific events that caused people to lose trust in government. For example, people largely regard the 60s and 70s as a time where people first started developing mistrust in the government with events like the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal shocking Americans in their injustice. However, it was probably always difficult to trust the government prior to this as a marginalized minority. What do you think?

    • Sydney Taft Cole
      5 years ago

      Thank you for your comments, Sophie! I agree with you about the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal creating a lot of distrust in the government. I wonder if events such as these were already happening but those two brought it to light. Maybe such things were not happening and that was the beginning of it. I don’t know, but you bring up a great point that the 60s and 70s seemed to be a turning point from people mostly trusting the government to mostly distrusting it. Hopefully the trust that was lost during that time can be regained.
      – Sydney

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