By Lucell Larawan

A father put his little boy on the railing of the back porch. After he went down and stood on the lawn, he encouraged the anxious fellow to jump into his arms. “I’ll catch you,” he said with confidence. He made more coaxing and, finally, his son made the leap. But as the son jumped, his father stepped back and allowed his child to fall on the ground. He raised his son to his feet, dried his tears and dusted him off. “Learn this lesson,” he sternly emphasized, “don’t ever trust anyone.”

This is not the way to raise a child. Please do not imitate this at home.

I write this to illustrate that trust is eroding between employees and employers, sellers and buyers, or even among peers. Many demonstrate their smartness by not immediately trusting other people. And they are keen enough doing this.

On the other hand, trust is the anchor of any relationship—whether in business or in a personal level. The success of any institution largely depends on mutual trust. But for some reason, trust can be eroded irreparably.

Dr. Robert Schuller published his story about his son: “One problem I remember was a time when our son Bob broke our trust and lied to his mother and me. He was still young, dating Linda, his wife-to-be, and was only allowed to see her on certain nights. Well, one night he wanted to see her without permission and told us he was at his friend’s house. When we found out the truth, there was a real scene between us. He had violated our trust; it was like a crack in a fine cup that marred its appearance. In the confrontation, I smashed a fine English tea cup on the floor and told Bob that to restore our trust would be like gluing that cup back together again. He said, ‘I don’t know if I can do that.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s how hard it is to build confidence and trust again.’ The outcome was that Bob spent literally weeks carefully gluing the pieces together until he finished. He learned a very important lesson.”

I also had my share of broken trust. When I had mentored in a university in Iloilo City, I thought I can trust the system and its administrators. I regularly arrange art exhibits almost every year for students’ exposure—all through the artists’ personal expense without the university defraying our production costs. For that, I did not know what I got in return and even suffered several unfair decisions by the administration.

I made eight sole-authored studies through this erstwhile university. Some of them I already published in international peer-reviewed journals. With all the efforts being a research-productive business mentor—the main criteria for college mentors internationally—I only got an Associate Professor rank which is similar to the rank of my non-productive peer mentors who had no research record. The message I got: aim for dust in the wind. I was also not allowed to hold an administrative position. I heard decision-makers who emphasized that the reason for my plight was I did not belong to the Convention Baptist church which the university is affiliated, yet they fail to point out that I had been an active member of a Christian church in Jaro and the Gideons International (clearly not a question about values on my part). What I got was a big blow to scholarly pursuits. In addition, the decision-makers of that university listened to those who made no great shakes to put me down. How can I ever trust a university like that?

The usual meetings the dean had held every month memorably pushed vain repetitions (very annoying ones, actually) coaxing and prodding mentors to do research. Only I responded to that; although, even without her coaxing and prodding, I just naturally like to publish research articles. The reason the dean could not convince mentors to do research was because her research record was null. And the administration put her in that position—a decision that cannot attract trust among researchers. Though I was nine times more productive than anyone else in that university, I was betrayed by non-intellectual forces deriding scholarly pursuits and was left out in promotions. Who could trust a system like this?

I also noticed that the university had prodded me to publish my researches in order to raise its accreditation status, albeit researchers become faceless objects for the glory of the malicious institution. Who could trust a system like this?

My point is: institutions can hold many meetings and spend millions for what they thought are important; nevertheless, if trust is eroded, they cannot put it back again. They suffer the consequences of having too much hubris, after they refuse to admit their mistakes.