The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The importance of trust in our institutions

President Ronald Reagan meets with Secretary of State George P. Shultz in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
President Ronald Reagan meets with Secretary of State George P. Shultz in Rancho Mirage, Calif. (Reagan Library/National Archives)

It didn’t take George P. Shultz 100 years to learn about the one element that binds our human condition [“The 10 most important things I’ve learned about trust over my 100 years,” Sunday Opinion, Dec. 13]. He used his centennial anniversary as a platform, one earned after extensive service as a Cabinet officer during the Nixon and Reagan administrations, to espouse the obvious.

Trust has been the victim of political divisiveness not seen since the Civil War. Trust has disappeared from the body politic since our truth-deprived president assumed office four long, sordid years ago. Mr. Shultz was right. We learn about trust in our earliest years from our parents. Their sincere efforts to love and nurture us, and to guide us in honest, ethical ways, enable us to understand credible, empathetic behavior. We grasp the essence of trusting others and being trusted. If trust is broken, so are relationships.

Mr. Shultz has lived well. His integrity is unquestioned. His character is exemplary.

Howard Freedlander, Annapolis

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