A recent newspaper article about an annually conducted poll shows that in the U.S. over the past 40 years trust in other people (social trust) has diminished from 50 percent to 33 percent.

In Hans Küng’s magesterial work, Does God Exist?, he makes the point that studies have shown that fundamental human trust may go back to our earliest childhood experiences—and even back to the womb. The newspaper article suggests that the level of social trust an individual has is fundamentally established by their mid-20s.

Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World (2008) makes the point that one of the things that makes a community a happy place to live is your ability to trust your neighbors. (Locking yourself out of your house in a snowstorm is one indicator of how much you can depend on neighbors to help out!)

The Hebrew root bqr is usually translated with some form of “trust.” In the Bible, this trust refers most often to trust in God—note especially how the psalmists speak of putting their trust in God and counting on God.

The pollsters reflect on the effects of diminishing trust of others—even the current political gridlock in Congress. It makes me, however, reflect on how each of us acts in such a way as to foster, nurture, and build trust. Am I a person whom others trust? And if not, why not? In what ways do my own actions build trust in the community?