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THOMAS TARURONGO WYNNE: Years to build, seconds to break, a lifetime to repair

Saturday 18 September 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Opinion

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THOMAS TARURONGO WYNNE: Years to build,  seconds to break, a lifetime to repair
Columnist Thomas Tarurongo Wynne. 16040843

Be it Covid-19 or the need to vaccinate, or the exploration of our seabed and the minerals on its floor as announced by the government this week – it’s not a question of good science or quality research, this is instead a question of trust.

Working as counsellor, which I am still doing part time in Aotearoa, sexual abuse cases are sadly cases we never easily forget and ones that often touch us deeply.

They are hinged upon many things and a power relationship – where one has responsibility or power over another and abuses that power in the most terrible way – is often the case, with too often the abuser being known or related to the victim.

Of all the sexual abuse cases I dealt with in the Cook Islands and in Aotearoa, there was one aspect of sexual abuse that was common to all, one factor that weaved its way through every case and one that would often be the longest lasting effect of this terrible abuse.

It’s what takes often years to build, only seconds to break, and sometimes a lifetime to repair – if at all.

It’s trust.

Trust is that invisible gift we give to those around us and to those in positions of power, in our families, in our relationships, churches and government.

Trust is that priceless gift that we give freely, that we expect others to treasure and hold with love and care, because we trust them and entrust them with our most precious commodity.

The destruction of trust by an abuser cuts deep into the heart of a victim and this trust can sometimes – in fact often – never be won back again.

Damaging trust affects relationships for the victim in every aspect of their lives, when left in the dark and not brought into the light of healing, and sometimes much-needed forgiveness.

Trust is difficult for so many of us and finding someone you can trust sometimes even harder. Nonetheless it is part of who we are as Cook Islands people that we entrust those in our families and our community, including government, with our hopes, our dreams and our aspirations.

What they then do with that trust is out of our control because that’s how trust works – we give it to others to take care of. 

I think often there are two verses everyone remembered in Sunday school because they are often repeated, ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you’; and in Proverbs – ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.’
Again and again they are repeated at birthdays, functions and in speeches, and if we research, the Hebrew word Betach which is used in this verse, translates to the English words of security or a place of refuge and safety.

It is this picture of leaning in or abiding in safety and comfort that the writer wants to conjure up, but can be lost in the simple translation into English, the word trust.  

Trust is about a safe and secure place and trust is broken when that safety and security is broken.

Right now, the world continues to debate what to trust and what not to trust. Do we trust our governments, our scientists, or have they broken our trust and the security they were supposed to provide?

There have been times when our churches have not been safe havens and our institutions have not provided security or a peace of mind, especially when those in power abused trust and preyed on others, or simply our trust in them abusing their position of power to gain for themselves or to prey on others or both.

We must be vigilant as parents, students, children and citizens, in whom or what we put our trust in, and they must pass the test of trustworthiness for them to be trustworthy.

And the number one indicator of trustworthiness is their word.

That what they say is honest and truthful, that they stick to their word, and that their word matches their actions. And if we applied this to our relationships, to our pastors and teachers and our government officials or politicians, the question remains who would be left that we could give our trust to?

Love is about trust, the trust of another to take care of your heart. Faith is about trust in that we trust in God we serve and his servants, and government is about trust, in that we entrust them with managing our taxes, our country and our resources.

Be it Covid-19 or the need to vaccinate, or the exploration of our seabed and the minerals on its floor as announced by the government this week, it is not a question of good science or quality research, this is instead a question of trust.

So I ask the question again, in whom or in what do you put your trust, and why?

It’s a reasonable question to ask especially with the challenges in front and ahead of us, both above the ocean and below it.