Picking up the pieces of shattered trust

Picking up the pieces of shattered trust

So we never thought it could happen to us.  I’m sure we would all love to think that.  This particular train of thought is a familiar cerebral pathway unique to many of us who, either directly or indirectly, have ever had to negotiate their way through the fallout generated by the shambles such an awful crime made of our lives.  Yes, CRIME is the term applied to actions taken by one or more individuals that obviously overstep the boundaries of common decency norms, be it either reported or quietly unchallenged for whatever reason.  We need not chalk this up to complacency nor need we fault our own poor vigilance as we all know somewhere in the dank realms of our own bad life experience memory files that such things do exist and can present when and where least expected.  We simply have to understand that so long as there are human beings in leadership positions that there will be an ever present temptation from the dark side of humanity to indulge in forbidden action.  Resisting such temptations is perhaps easier for some than others.  This is why we admire those who exemplify personal responsibility and demand it of our professional class.  This is why the education and training of those seeking to shepherd congregations and constituencies through the intricacies of life is so lengthy and extensive.  This is why winning the trust of so many is such a long row to hoe and is so often not readily commanded until certain competencies are demonstrated multiple times over.  This is why so many of us in the local Unitarian Universalist community along this, the most conservative stretch of Old Route 66, feel like a nuclear bomb went off in the core of our collective soul last week.

I’m sure my regular readers duly noted my references to local conservative politicians over the last couple of months whose legislative careers met with tumultuous termination due to sensationalized scandal.  Former state senator Ralph Shortey was charged with child prostitution after being caught having an illegal sexual liaison with a 17-year-old male in a motel and subsequently forced to resign from office.  In February, former state house representative Dan Kirby was forced to resign his office in the face of sexual harassment charges.  I will admit that I was not overly surprised by either of these because they seemed to fit a pattern I have come to expect from religious conservative politicians over the years.  In the runup to the 2008 General Election I happened to stumble onto a website by the name of republicanoffenders.com.  It has long since gone away but the owner of the site had a point to make.  His sole purpose for creating that site was to refute conservative Republican claims that liberals and Democrats were all inherently corrupt.  Using “Google and caffeine” to examine the records of the Department of Justice, he found that number of Republicans indicted for crimes was three to five times higher than that of Democrats.  That wasn’t even the most embarrassing part for Republicans.  He had only found a few prominent Democrats who were convicted pedophiles compared to the number of Republicans.  It was a huge discrepancy and the guy did not even touch on the issue of convicted pedophile clergy members.  Knowing what I know about this fellow’s research, I was totally cognizant of there being a few liberals with such known deviant tendencies.  As with everyone else in the local UU community, I was reminded of this when a very disturbing news item appeared in my social media news feed.

Last Thursday when the story broke that Rev. Ron Robinson, a local Unitarian Universalist minister who I have personally met before when he subbed at my own UU congregation, was arrested in a federal child pornography investigation, I immediately began experiencing all the stages of loss.  For me, denial passed quickly into anger which soon gave way to bargaining.  Today it was despair giving way to acceptance and looking forward as to how I would like to see the local World after this mess is relegated to archives.  Everyone else who had a more in-depth relationship with Rev. Robinson are having a much harder time working through the process.  Indeed, all sense of trust with this clergy member has been shattered and nothing anyone can say or do can assuage that violation.  Everyone affected by this ordeal seems to be taking a close inventory of their own character with the unspeakable question swirling around somewhere up in their own head posing the query, “Am I capable of such a thing?”  All I can say to anyone reeling and feeling violated from this criminal conflagration is that so long as we must recruit and develop community leaders from the human race, the risk of the dark side of humanity raising its ugly head and devastating all we hold dear in terms of trust is inherent and remains a risk we must all take.  In all relationships between human beings, TRUST is the most important bond.  Once it is damaged it will never return to its original and natural pristine state.  That is not to say it cannot get back to a level of serviceability, it just will never be the same as it was in the beginning.  Although there is nothing to do to make this whole mess feel better or right or whatever, it will eventually pass a point where the community can move on.  Knowing this and looking forward, we must give some critical thought to how we would like to remake our World when we have the power to do so.  Until then we must not let matters not in our control take from us the things we have worked to hard to achieve.  We are all still here and we are all still together.



  1. Carl A.
    Apr 6, 2017

    There is a dark side to every human soul. Call it ‘original sin’, call it the ‘id’, call it ‘Mr. Hyde’, or what you will… it is a very real part of being human.

    The mistake that many people make about this aspect of life is that they try to deny that any badness exists – whether within, or without. They try to perceive the world through rose-colored glasses, and they try to imagine themselves as if they are capable of being perfect (which is not within the human repertoire).

    And it is that very dichotomy – that inability to accept one’s own failings and shortcomings – which allows evil to grow and eventually flourish.

    No man can ever truly be what he is not. We are all flawed in some way or shape, in some part or parcel, to one extent or another. Recognizing that fact about ourselves, accepting it, and dealing with it is the only real way to overcome the worst part of our dual nature…

    Up/down; in/out; over/under; true/false; good/bad – we live within a world of duality, where there are two sides to every coin. And this is true not only for our physical existence, but for our inner spiritual workings, as well.

    The inscription “gnothi seauton” was carved upon the wall of the Temple of Apollo, in ancient Delphi, Greece… in modern English that translates to Know Thyself.

    And that is the key to becoming who you truly want to be, rather than turning into someone you never really thought you were.

  2. jennifer harmon
    Apr 4, 2017

    Well said. TY.