What do you believe? Do you have a set of religious, political and behavioral beliefs that you use as the basis for most of your actions? Beliefs can be as simple as Santa Claus and as complex as the Big Bang theory. Beliefs can be helpful or hurtful. It helps to believe in an afterlife when you’re dying, but it hurts to see a child wake up on Christmas morning and not see any presents under the tree.
I try hard to believe in our federal government. I really do. I’ve lived in Italy and Spain, and I’ve traveled around England and Ireland and parts of Saudi Arabia and Norway, and I know our system of government is the best. I wouldn’t trade it for communism or socialism or a monarchy. I love going to Canada and Mexico, but I’m always glad when I get home. Our founding fathers hit on something grand when they established our three branches of government; every country needs this kind of check and balance. It’s a cool system, but most of the other countries don’t have it. We have it.
But what we don’t have -- all the time -- are the right people to run it. I can believe in the system, but I find it difficult to believe in my Congress, my president and his staff, and my nine Supreme Court judges when they lie or spin the truth for political reasons. The system is flawless, but the people are flawed. What does that do to my belief? Am I no longer a “believer”?
Believers put up with a lot. How many times did we forgive Santa for bringing the wrong present, or the Tooth Fairy for seeing only one tooth under our pillow when we had two? How often have we discovered that our religious leaders were leading us astray? Surely, the Middle Georgia Muslims recognize the jihadists are wrong, but that doesn’t drive them out of their mosque on Vineville Avenue. How many Catholics practice birth control (98 percent) yet still believe?
I guess it’s just a matter of waiting and hoping (and voting) for those leaders we can trust. Americans will never agree on one political party, and that’s a good thing. We need to have some representatives in Washington who feel strongly about “small government” and some who feel strongly about “big government,” because Americans are split on that, too. But what we don’t need is someone we can’t trust. Belief without trust is impossible.
Trust comes from truth. Tell me the truth, and I will trust you. I may not like what you tell me, but I will trust you. Foot soldiers in Afghanistan certainly hate it when their top sergeant tells them to charge that building full of insurgents, but they trust him, and because they trust him, they put their lives in danger.
Half of America has lost trust in our federal government. Just 12 percent of us say we are “basically content” with it. Fifty-five percent say we’re frustrated, and 30 percent say we’re downright angry. This doesn’t mean we no longer believe in our governmental system. We still believe in the system, but we just can’t trust the people who are running it.
But there comes a time when even a believer calls it quits. How long can we live with this mistrust before we stand up and begin to scream: “We’re mad as hell, and we can’t take it anymore”? How many Benghazi and IRS scandals can we swallow and continue to drink the Kool Aid? How many times can we watch the House shut down the government or the Senate refuse to negotiate? How many Obamacare blunders and cover-ups can we accept? How can we sit idle while a Macon woman who makes $866 a month is told that her new “affordable insurance” will cost her $650 a month? How can she live on just a few dollars a week? The gas she buys to get her to work costs more than that!
There’s a story in Mark’s gospel where a man says to Jesus: “I believe; help my unbelief.” That just about sums it up, I think.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corp. and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.