During the recently concluded legislative session, I helped out with the effort to legalize raw milk in Alaska. Somehow I found myself emailing updates and action alerts to more than forty people, all of whom were passionate about access to raw milk.
They are a diverse group. People from Delta and Homer, Palmer and Anchorage, Wasilla and Eagle River. Conservatives and liberals. Religious people and people without religious affiliation. Some who wrote long, impassioned pleas and others who simply emailed me their names and address. Folks for whom the issue is about health, and others for whom the issue is about freedom.
What holds these disparate people together, I believe, is the effort to rebuild civic trust. Betrayal has been so pervasive, on so many fronts, that many of us are standing just a few feet from total disillusionment, trying to figure out how to walk back in the direction of hope.
It’s not easy figuring out who to trust. We just watched the documentary Libby, Montana, and it was so painful to hear the stories of workers at the WR Grace mine, betrayed by members of management who were leaders in the Libby community, in local government, in local churches. Betrayed by people they interacted with on a daily basis. Betrayed by people they trusted.
A spiritual director once told me, “Trust everyone a little. Trust no one completely.” It would be nice if we could let down our guard and relax, but unfortunately we cannot afford to walk through life naively. We have to be alert, conscious, vigilant, thinking people.