These days trust in our compatriots and in our institutions is what we need the most, but sadly, it seems like there is a lot less of it. One person who believed deeply in the value of trust, George Shultz, former Secretary of State and longtime government servant who died at age 101 in February this year put it succinctly in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post in December 2010:
“Trust is the coin of the realm.” When trust was in the room, whatever room that was – the family room, the school room, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room – good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.”
George Shultz was the second longest serving Secretary of State in American history (and former Dean of Chicago Business School with a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT). He wrote the Washington Post piece on his 100th Birthday (December 20, 2020).
Shultz also said:
Often in my career, I saw that genuine empathy is essential in establishing solid, trusting relationships. In 1973, when I was treasury secretary, I attended a wreath-laying ceremony at a World War II memorial in Leningrad with the Soviet foreign trade minister, Nikolai Patolichev. As we walked, Patolichev, a tough old guy, described the staggering death toll in the Battle of Leningrad. Tears streamed down his face, and his interpreter was sobbing. When we were about to leave, I said to Patolichev, “I, too, fought in World War II and had friends killed beside me.” Looking out over the cemetery, I added, “After all, these were the soldiers who defeated Hitler.” Facing the cemetery, I raised my best Marine salute, and Patolichev thanked me for the show of respect. Later on, to my surprise, I found that I had earned the trust of Soviet leaders as a result of this visit.
We need more trust in all of our rooms.