By Nona Phinn
The iconic Disney movie Remember the Titans tops the list of my all-time favorite movies. Besides the fact that I was born and raised in northern Virginia, I connect with the messages that come through each and every scene of the film.
Recently, I had a conversation with Stephen Kehoe, Global Chair of Reputation for Edelman, the global communications marketing firm.
“For all of us, trust is what makes the world go around. Without trust, the world is broken,” Kehoe shared.
As we spoke, a Remember the Titans trailer flashed through my mind.
It’s the 1970s, and T. C. Williams, the high school in the film, was entering its first year of integration. Bringing students from all ethnic backgrounds together at a time when segregation was deemed acceptable made for high tensions, even on the football field.
That summer, Coach Boone, the newly appointed African American head coach, led a football camp that met with an array of challenges. The players, though, appeared able to conquer all the setbacks as they prepared for their season—until the school year started.
The Titans won their first several games…barely. After those lucky breaks, the team decided to remove all barriers that divided them and trust one another completely to achieve victories that they could all be proud of. This team’s ability to trust made history at a time when our nation required streams of goodness to quench flames of division and fear.
I wonder if we are there again.
Edelman produces its Trust Barometer report annually to gain a sense of the level of trust that exists in society and how its presence or lack thereof impacts the current trajectory of our world.
“There has been a real trust crash in the United States over the last year,” Kehoe pointed out. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the informed public’s trust in U.S. institutions—including nongovernmental organizations, businesses, governments, and the media—has plunged from the sixth-highest in the 28 markets surveyed to the lowest (Edelman, 2018).
I have to agree with Kehoe: without trust, the world is broken. When we can’t believe in, count on, work with, or even agree to disagree with one another, how can we truly create a world that is worth handing over to tomorrow’s generations?
I am amazed at how innovative our society is. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of my very own self-driving car or wave to the drone dropping off my next online order. But I can’t help but wonder whether these will indeed make the future brighter for my seven-year-old.
At the end of the day, if we are innovating in a broken world because we have depleted our “trust” accounts, will the advances matter? How much import does taking a vacation on the moon hold if I can’t trust those, here on earth, who possess the great responsibility to do right and be right?
For Edelman, that is what trust is all about, “a belief in whether a person or an organization is going to do right—whether they will do the right thing.”
If we look into the heart of the tangible brilliance of our nation, will we find that trust is the cornerstone? I only ask because if trust doesn’t become a sustainable resource for us, then what do we really have to offer the world of tomorrow?