Or, you could recognize that definitions are ultimately anthropological, and go straight for a source. Say, an editorial on Idaho’s Senator-at-this-moment Larry Craig in the North Idaho Press, which says:
We urge Sen. Craig to remove all the clouds and resign.
This is not a moral judgment, not in the sense that some want Craig ousted for alleged homosexual behavior that’s been rumored for many years. Nor is it an indictment of his tepid stance in the Iraq war or his unpopular support of President Bush’s proposed immigration reform.
It is a recommendation based upon the fact that the people of Idaho cannot trust their most powerful representative in the nation’s capital.
What can we infer about trust from this one simple example?
First, trust is pretty powerful. Calls by newspapers for the resignation of a home-state senator are very rare. Yet the reasoning for the call rests on the invocation of a single word—trust.
Lack of trust often has to do with deception—withholding truth, covering up, not being transparent. In this case, the paper says,
Worse, he tried to keep the whole thing secret. And by all appearances, he nearly got away with it… the senator had ample time not just to decide his best course of legal action, but to tell the nation what was going on [yet did not]
Deception can bleed into straight up lying—as the paper suggests,
He is extremely intelligent and fully versed in legal procedure. We cannot accept that, in a hurry, he made a bad call that has clouded his future — and the state’s.
Closely related is whether or not someone takes appropriate responsibility, as opposed to blaming others. The editorial says:
the senator did not own up to his misdemeanor crime. He did not apologize to his family, to the fabulous staff that has supported him for more than a quarter century in Congress, to his constituents here in Idaho.
If you had just dropped in from Mars and read only this one editorial, you’d get a good sense of what the human race means by trust. It means transparency; it means taking responsibility; it means telling the truth.
And—at least in some cases—earthlings appear to take it pretty seriously.