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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Trust but Verify

“Trust but Verify” was a statement made famous by President Ronald Reagan. It was in reference to developing and maintaining relationships with foreign powers and political opponents.


Today, due in part to the immediate access to information the need to “trust but verify” applies to so much more. This is true, because we are inundated with opinions, perspectives, views, and ideas affecting how we think and view our lives and world.


Recently, we have seen a willingness for people to latch on to a thought, or phrase and repeat it without knowledge of its origin or authenticity. This willingness to trust what we see or hear has created the ability to manipulate the hearts and minds of people.


The anger and animus this is creating all around us is frightening as people continue to trust what they see and hear without verification. The ease with which this is accomplished is amazing.


If we can agree this is a problem, perhaps we can agree it is possible this is happening to us just as often as it is to those around us.


You see, ideas and opinions are wonderful when they are based on facts. Without verification of these facts, we cannot have a dialogue which allows us to hear, listen and value a differing point of view.


“Trust but verify” should be the cry of our hearts.


Yet, the truth is many just accept what they hear as truth simply because it validates their thoughts, beliefs, and biases.


My hope is I will learn to be thoughtful, not just reactionary, and I will derive my views and opinions from listening to and learning the facts before they are formed.


How is this possible?


First, I must deal with my own tendency to trust before verifying., Then, I need to be careful where I am getting my information. To do this, I am striving not to be consumed by the noise around me.


I am accomplishing this by placing my focus elsewhere. As I do, I am learning to allow the things I cannot “trust but verify” to become less important. This has brought grace and calm into my world where anger and judgment once were commonplace.


I have not lost my desire to be right. I have just shifted my focus to something I am sure is right. You see, I have decided to “set my mind on things above, not on the things of this world.” This has given me a peace and assurance I could not find elsewhere.


“Trust but verify” is still the right thing to do. But before you do, perhaps you should consider where you have placed your trust and verify what you believe is true!


Hebrews 4:12,” For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”



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