trust sign
PHOTO: Bernard Hermant

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer “reveals that trust has changed profoundly in the past year — people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers.”

Trust has not disappeared. We still trust. In many ways, we trust more than ever. We just trust differently. There has been a huge decline in institutions and organizations that are seen as remote from us and beyond our control.

On one side, people are trusting more themselves, their friends, their peers (that's why Uber, Airbnb, etc., have been so successful). On the other side, there is a collapse in institutional trust. Brexit is not so much about Britain leaving Europe, but Britain leaving Britain. Only 9 percent of British people believe that their government will “do the right thing” according to a 2018 Centre for Policy Studies 2018 study. During the Brexit referendum, being called an “expert” was a form of insult.

According to the 2018 Edelman survey, 80 percent of people globally think the system is broken and have “an urgent desire for change … there is a growing move toward engagement and action.”

People today want to change the world rather than want the world to be changed for them. They want to play an active part in the change. We are at a pivotal moment in society. The easy answers of religion and politicians are increasingly been proven to be empty but there is a void, a vacuum being left behind. We realize that the system is broken, but where is the new system?

The slow, dawning realization is that this new system is within everyone of us. There is no master architect out there who knows how to build this new system. There is no great leader. If we’re going to solve challenges like climate change, then it is us the people who must lead. We do that by first changing our habits, then by trying to convince our family and friends, and then by looking to our employers.

According the Edelman survey, people are “ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than 'business as usual.' Employees’ expectation that prospective employers will join them in taking action on societal issues (67 percent) is nearly as high as their expectations of personal empowerment (74 percent) and job opportunity (80 percent).”

We want to be part of networks we can be an active part of, not networks where we are passive consumers. Sure, the world is still being flooded by scams like the Fyre Festival, which promised that you too can live like a criminal high-flyer for a few days, but there is a greater and much more positive movement out there too. Take responsibility. Take action. Don’t wait for the experts or the politicians to tell you what to do. Do something. This is not a Right or Left movement. It is a general movement.

The world is far too complex for any great leader or group of experts to possibly understand, let alone lead. It is through collective wisdom, group learning, and the active engagement of every single one of us, that we will make the world a better place.