Are you earning trust?
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?