Hypocrites Trust in human institutions is at an all-time low, I would say. How can we trust a Pope who preaches mercy but lashes out at those who ask for clarification on his self-contradictions? People often say the Church is full of hypocrites, and they are right. But hypocrisy is at an all-time high in the rest of the world too. How can we trust a government that routinely lies to us? How can we trust a tech industry that calls for tolerance and openness but censors books and divergent points of view? How can we trust celebrities who talk green but live wasteful lifestyles with carbon footprints several hundred times that of the working class Joe? Flying back from my mother’s funeral last week on United Airlines, I had to listen to incessant posturing about carbon neutrality while flight attendants went through the cabin with big plastic bags ten times to pick up the mountains of trash generated by their triple and quadruple packaging of snacks and drinks. Heavenly Valley Ski Area in Lake Tahoe has big signs about “achieving carbon neutrality” while they run play areas for the wealthy that consume vast amounts of the earth’s natural resources.
Can anyone trust anyone? You can trust some people. You can trust the people you know, like your family members, your good friends, and your co-workers. But you can’t implicitly trust Big Anything. As a general rule, the bigger it gets, the less accountable it becomes, and the less trustworthy. Big Government, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Entertainment, Big Tech, and … Big Church—all must be regarded with a healthy amount of reserve. Trust your local grocery store, and your local parish, and the people you actually know. Smaller is better. Don’t trust those big chains that claim to be “Your Neighborhood Grocery Store” or “Your Neighborhood Grill.” The food is often terrible and the service lackluster. Jesus did not do things big: he had 12 apostles, one of whom betrayed him. In the end, he put his absolute trust only in His Heavenly Father. You can trust God, and you can even trust some people--trust but verify. St. John Henry Newman realized, as do all saints, that in God alone do I place my [absolute] trust.