Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with an unfaithful partner understands that, while the cheating itself is painful, the deepest wound is the shattering of trust. It is when you find out or figure out that you've been lied to -- often repeatedly -- that it bores a hole deep inside of you. Frequently, that hole is too deep to salvage the relationship, but sometimes, through a great deal of work and forgiveness, trust can be rebuilt. But even in those relationships that are saved, it often happens that the level of trust is never completely whole again.
When we strip away all the layers of the NSA spy scandal, this is what we're talking about: trust. In a democracy, the people must be able to trust our elected leaders. We must be able to trust that they are looking out for our best interests and that they are being relatively honest with us. (I say relatively because most of us understand that modern nation-states must keep a few things secret.)
Over the last decade or two, we've been hit with one major revelation after another. We've found out that the rule of law is dead. We've found out that money -- and nothing else -- matters in politics. We've found out that when the interests of Wall Street are pitted against the interests of Main Street, our leaders insure that the former wins every single time. And now, as if to double down, we have found out that the specter of terrorism is being utilized as an excuse to shred our constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.
If the US government was our partner, then we have now learned that he has been sleeping with every gal and guy between here and Timbuktu! Confronted with the truth, he looks us straight in the eye and coos, "The others mean nothing. You're the one I truly love."
We want to slap his lying face, but we don't because he is very powerful and has a quick temper. We want to leave the relationship, but he will have none of it. "You're stuck with me, babe" he smirks. And he's right! There really isn't much of any place we can go to flee. If we try to leave, he will track us down and punish us severely.
So, we're stuck in an abusive relationship with a man we don't trust. Every time he announces that he needs to run some errands, we are more than certain that he's off to see one of his clandestine lovers -- an act which rips another gaping hole in the tattered fabric of trust.
We really WANT to trust him. No matter how many times he shatters that trust, we are willing to give him another chance, another opportunity to begin the work to rebuild the fabric of our relationship. And here is the great irony to this tragic tale. Despite the fact that we have been true blue and faithful to a fault, it turns out that HE doesn't trust US! He figures that, since he is the most unfaithful retch on the planet, this somehow proves that we too are just as unfaithful! So, he has his henchmen follow and record our every move. If we privately express a lack of confidence in our faltering relationship, he immediately knows and can utilize this information against us.
And so, with the trust gone and a brooding tyrant of a lover afoot, we are left to lead compromised lives. We find a few joys in self-destructed and trivial pursuits, but we can no longer live in a robust manner. We simply go through the motions and wait to die.