Are you earn­ing trust?

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - ROBERT A. BOX

Kent Bar­ret, writ­ing in the Kansas Wildlife and

Parks Mag­a­zine (May-June, 2017) has an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Hunt­ing Her­itage: What We Do When No One Is Watch­ing.”

In it, he shares his ob­ser­va­tion that while many peo­ple obey the law for fear of be­ing caught and pun­ished, most Amer­i­cans obey the law even when there is al­most no chance of get­ting caught and pun­ished. His po­si­tion is that most Amer­i­cans want to do the right thing and see it as their duty as a re­spon­si­ble ci­ti­zen.

Bar­ret fur­ther elab­o­rates upon his po­si­tion by point­ing out that in many na­tions laws are obeyed pri­mar­ily out of fear of be­ing caught and pun­ished, and ig­nored if the pun­ish­ment is not se­vere enough. In an­swer­ing why this is so, he replies, “I think peo­ple learn to ig­nore the laws from the gov­ern­ment it­self. When peo­ple watch their gov­ern­ment twist the law, ap­ply it ar­bi­trar­ily or ig­nore it com­pletely, peo­ple may be­lieve the law isn’t re­ally law, and that if their gov­ern­ment isn’t bound by the law, peo­ple can’t be bound ei­ther.”

I don’t know Bar­ret’s po­lit­i­cal back­ground, but he has a point. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween a high­trust so­ci­ety and a lowtrust so­ci­ety. In the for­mer, peo­ple tend to ex­tend trust to strangers and fol­low the rules for the most part. In a low-trust so­ci­ety, trust seldom ex­tends be­yond close fam­ily, and ev­ery­body cheats if they can get away with it. While we in Amer­ica tra­di­tion­ally have been a high-trust so­ci­ety, there is a dan­ger that we are tran­si­tion­ing into a low-trust so­ci­ety.

Kent Bar­ret writes from a wildlife hunt­ing per­spec­tive, and cor­rectly points out that hunters nor­mally do not have some­one to ap­prove or dis­ap­prove what they do while hunt­ing. They do what their con­science tells them to do.

One coach put it this way, “In­tegrity is what you do when no one is watch­ing. It’s do­ing the right thing all the time.” Thus, in­tegrity is obe­di­ence to the un­en­force­able.

The same thing is ap­pli­ca­ble to the game of golf or be­ing a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer. As a golfer, it is easy for me to rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of in­tegrity on the golf course. There is no one pre­sent to mon­i­tor whether you play by the rules or not, whether you prac­tice golf eti­quette or not. I sus­pect that all golfers have their sto­ries about un­scrupu­lous play­ers.

I re­mem­ber play­ing with one guy sev­eral years ago who claimed a 7 hand­i­cap. For those of you who are not golfers, that is a very low hand­i­cap for golfers around here in North­west Arkansas. I was ex­cited to watch him play, hop­ing to learn how to play bet­ter golf. He made a bo­gie (one stroke worse than par) on the first hole, and swore a lit­tle; on the sec­ond hole, he again made a bo­gie and

cursed a lot more; on the third hole, he made a dou­ble bo­gie, cursed and threw his club down. Af­ter that, I no­ticed that when­ever he got on the green within 10 feet, he al­ways called it a “give me.” No won­der he had a low hand­i­cap.

To a large ex­tent, law

en­force­ment of­fi­cers also do not have some­one look­ing over their shoul­der while they are on duty. It is ex­pected that each of­fi­cer per­form his or her duty re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances, and with­out a lot of over­sight. Most do this well, but there are al­ways some who choose to ig­nore the rules when they want to.

I’m sure there are a great many oc­cu­pa­tions where in­tegrity for the job is

more im­por­tant than be­ing forced to do some­thing out fear of reprisal.

It would be nice to live in a world where peo­ple trusted one an­other more, but that is only pos­si­ble when peo­ple choose to live by the rules and to teach them to their chil­dren. When­ever some­one is break­ing any rule, it al­ways makes a per­son won­der if he or she is go­ing to break other rules that might in­volve them — and there goes the trust level.

One of my fa­vorite say­ings in law en­force­ment work is, “Re­spect may be given, but trust has to be earned.”

Are you earn­ing the trust of those around you?

•• •

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.