Why Don’t Americans Trust Each Other Anymore?

Per an AP/GFK poll, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Only half the number felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

So today nearly two-thirds say, “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

There are surely many factors that come into play to cause this huge lack of trust. However, there is one potential cause that does not place the blame on others, the media, politicians, crooks, terrorist, and all the other external influences.

The reason many people today are distrustful is because they know that they themselves should not be trusted. They themselves, do not always tell the truth, or return the extra cash when a cashier makes an error, take an item back to the store after it was used only because it is not needed anymore, take office supplies home from work, drop litter on the ground, or don’t give a full effort to their employer. This list can go on and on and you can of think of many other situations where maybe you were not as honest as you could have been.

If we see ourselves as not completely honest, how easy it is to see others as dishonest? In fact, seeing others as dishonest is an effective way for us to excuse our own dishonesty. “Everybody does it so, why shouldn’t I?”

We see a story occasionally about a person who finds a wallet containing $3,000 cash and returns it to the owner. The story is probably on the same page as other stories about thieves and murders and terrorists. A feel-good feature buried in all the sad news. How many say to themselves, “What a chump.”

Ask any conman who their best mark is and they will tell you an honest person. Why, because honest people are the one third of us left that still trust others. Why, because they know other people can trust them.

If we cannot trust ourselves to be honest how can we trust others to honest.

What are you teaching your children, your family, your coworkers, your friends about honesty? Not the words out of your mouth, but the way you live your life. If you are not honest all the time, every day, all day, you are surely teaching that dishonesty is okay.

We make the world we live in. Do you live in a world with honest people? I wonder why?