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Trust is the first change we’ll believe in

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: December 16, 2008 8:20 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2008 4:55 a.m.
Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia has long been blessed by a remarkable head pastor. "Joe the Pastor" is one of those scholar pastors whose sermons are nothing short of poetry - and appeal equally to the mind as well as the heart.

Joe's sermons are never too long and sometimes seem too short. That's saying something for a sermon.
Pastor Joe asked this past Sunday, "If you could, would you become a child again?"

"Sign me up!" I exclaimed in my mind. "Get me out of this rigamarole of adulthood. Get me back to ‘no worries.'"

"There's a beautiful simplicity to being a child we lose as adults," Joe continued. We all start up passively enough. "After all, we didn't decide to be born, we just show up."

God willing, with decent parents, we learn to trust from our very first moments.

Babies trust, accept, receive and believe unconditionally.

Trust decreases as we grow up and "wise up" until, at middle age, we stroke our beards and entertain doubt and consider the odd notion of faith and trust and maybe love - in a scientific age.

Yes, we enjoy much of the trappings of adulthood we didn't have as kids. Cars, careers, purchasing power and status.

But a major casualty along the way is that our childhood inclination for trust degrades to a well-earned skepticism and mistrust.

Mistrust for all sorts of things, from God to politics to the intent of those around us.

For many, faith and trust become altruistic remnants from the innocence of childhood.

Pastor Joe tosses in an inspiration: "Faith is having trust in the things you believe in." It's not just hoping, it's not wanting, it's not belief. Faith means counting on the object of your faith. To trust that things promised are, indeed, things delivered.

What's cool about kids is they innately trust and do so without reservation. "Trust" is their default setting from the kid factory.

But that so many kids later turn out as skeptics seems a strong indictment of betrayal by too many of the adults in whom they placed trust.

Joe continued his magnificent Lenten sermon, and I continued thinking of how his observations about kids, faith and trust have an impact on other things around us.

I enjoyed lunch with Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon last week. We are opposites on just about everything political. Yet we've developed a unique friendship and dialogue we both seem to appreciate.

As is his nature, the congressman was cordial, welcoming and open. A bit of a father figure, as is his nature.

During the conversation, Buck said that some of my columns made it seem like I'm an angry man. That he felt some concern.

I'd just written a particularly sharp piece condemning Republican calls for a quickie marketing makeover in the face of election defeat.

I assured Buck that I'm actually a pretty happy guy. A blessed guy, really. That the strong emotion he's sensing in my columns isn't anger - but rather betrayal.

Betrayal that the basic American values of fairness and honesty were overrun with greed, warmongering, profiteering, deception and manipulation.

But I'll agree with Buck on this: Indignation at betrayal put on newsprint likely reads like anger.

It's here that "Joe the Pastor's" insights intersect - at least for me - with "Buck the congressman's" lunch.
As citizens, we want to have faith in our government. We've been taught from tender youth that our government is good. We want to trust, to know, that it upholds our commonly espoused ethics.

You and I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands - and by golly, we want that allegiance reciprocated.

We're born citizens of this country and, if we could, we'd be like kids again and regain that same innocent trust in our government we had as youthful grade-schoolers, before political skepticism was beaten into us.

If there's anger in my columns, it's indignation that our trust was so deeply betrayed. We were manipulated and tricked - like Watergate, only worse. That only words and shoes have been hurled at the Offender in Chief is remarkable.

At its deepest level, Obama's message of "Change We Can Believe in" is about trust. A restoration of faith in our elected officials.

Obama's "Change" is about rebuilding trust and confidence that our government will again be "of the people, by the people, for the people." For all of us.

Trust grew when Obama quickly reached out to McCain, Clinton and Gates and established respectful rapport between those of opposing opinions. Faith in decency grows anew.

Trust grew when Obama selected his Cabinet, and manufactured fears of "Obama the socialist" gave way to the reality of "Obama the wise, intelligent pragmatist." Faith in competence is being restored.

Trust grew when whack-job Blagojevich got caught on tape trying to sell Obama's Senate seat and swears with frustrated rage that Obama's camp won't play ball with corruption. Faith in integrity confirmed.

For eight years we've been betrayed under George Bush's disturbing turn as "national father." He's been one of those bad dads who take decades of therapy to shake. A bad dad who jades the faith and trust of his kids forever.

America will pay for decades, as you and I now know. So yes, sometimes my sense of betrayal has sounded like anger.

But today, I'm feeling the renewed faith and trust that change is bringing. I believe this new trust will grow for all of us.

Ted Kennedy said at the Democratic Convention, "I feel change in the air." He might have well substituted "trust."

Trust is change we can believe in.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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