In whom does one trust?

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - LEO LYNCH Former JP, Ben­ton County

The weather cri­sis cre­ated by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey around Hous­ton has prompted some in­for­ma­tion on scams and mis­in­for­ma­tion be­ing sent out via emails and so­cial me­dia. It is no sur­prise that a segment of our so­ci­ety — like any so­ci­ety — would try to profit from the tragedy in the lives of oth­ers. From fake web­sites and fic­ti­tious or­ga­ni­za­tions to those who try to have “fun” at the ex­pense of oth­ers over the sta­tus or con­di­tions that sur­round the cir­cum­stances, the op­por­tu­ni­ties to cheat seem end­less. The re­ally se­ri­ous scams take re­sources away from those re­ally in need and we need to check our gifts re­cip­i­ent if we choose to give to help those in need.

As we search for a means of un­der­stand­ing peo­ple’s mo­tives in times like this, the sit­u­a­tion has brought to mind one of my fa­ther’s fa­vorite quotes — “love many, trust few and al­ways pad­dle your own ca­noe.” I don’t re­mem­ber how old I was when he quoted it to me the first time, but it has been a sta­ple in my mem­ory of his teach­ings. It cer­tainly is worth re­mem­ber­ing in times like these where a na­tional dis­as­ter of epic pro­por­tions is af­fect­ing mil­lions and when our gov­ern­ment lead­ers seem in dis­ar­ray over how to ac­tu­ally help the needy.

In try­ing to find the source of the quote, my on­line search came up blank when try­ing to attribute it to an in­di­vid­ual. One site said the au­thor was un­known, but it ap­peared in a news­pa­per as far back as 1826. It is left to our imag­i­na­tion to de­ter­mine what event might have prompted its ori­gin. It is easy, but ap­par­ently in­ac­cu­rate, to re­late it in any way to the song “Tip­paca­noe and Tyler, Too” associated with Wil­liam Har­ri­son’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1840. The song had noth­ing to do with pad­dling.

We can go into great depth as­so­ci­at­ing char­ac­ter qual­i­ties that might be gained by try­ing to make this quote a part of our lives. When I think of the phrase, “‘self-re­liant” comes to mind first, but tak­ing care in se­lect­ing our friends or as­so­ci­ates can eas­ily be tied to its mean­ing. How we de­fine our sense of “love” makes a great dif­fer­ence in the open­ing thought but also con­tains a warn­ing that puts the re­spon­si­bil­ity of who we “trust” back into our own hands.

The folks in Hous­ton can take the “pad­dle your own ca­noe” lit­er­ally if they hap­pen to have one handy. It would beat wait­ing for res­cue with a long list of oth­ers who need help. But, se­ri­ously we need to be care­ful and not go to the ex­treme and be­come anti-so­cial and cre­ate a per­son­al­ity prob­lem with the area of trust in our lives. How­ever, grow­ing up in North­west Arkansas in the early 1900s as my fa­ther did and find­ing many sit­u­a­tions in the fam­ily’s his­tory that might af­fect one’s trust, it is easy to un­der­stand how and why the quote was so sig­nif­i­cant to my fa­ther and why he might have cho­sen it to be a part of his chil­dren’s train­ing.

It might make an in­ter­est­ing topic of cof­fee group con­ver­sa­tion to dis­cuss how our pres­i­dent, Don­ald Trump, views this quote from a per­sonal per­spec­tive. For a per­son who seems to need — even de­mand — blind loy­alty, one would need to ques­tion how the pres­i­dent mea­sures “loy­alty.” In the realm of Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics, it must be dif­fi­cult to find those he would feel com­fort­able trust­ing with­out a lot of per­sonal ex­po­sure. And, find­ing enough qual­i­fied and loyal peo­ple for an out­sider like Don­ald Trump would prob­a­bly be very dif­fi­cult.

Try to put to­gether a staff of mostly un­knowns who come from a pool of pro­fes­sional politi­cians and the odds look very slim for suc­cess. In the busi­ness com­mu­nity, in­vestor Trump could mea­sure one’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions against a work record he would un­der­stand. And, he could al­ways fire one for their fail­ure and they would “go away.” In Wash­ing­ton, fir­ing a politi­cian only means they will ap­pear on a tele­vi­sion news show the fol­low­ing morn­ing be­ing interviewed about the re­la­tion­ship’s fail­ure. I’m sure find­ing those to love (po­lit­i­cally) is much eas­ier in the na­tion’s capi­tol than find­ing those to trust.

And even Don­ald Trump can’t ac­tu­ally pad­dle his own ca­noe all the time.

•••

Ed­i­tor’s note: Leo Lynch, an award-win­ning colum­nist, is a na­tive of Ben­ton County and has deep roots in north­west Arkansas. He is a re­tired in­dus­trial engi­neer and former Jus­tice of the Peace.

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