Building Trust Starts With Each One Of Us
28 June 2007

“Look at all that this nation has accomplished with one hand tied behind our backs. Imagine what would be possible if we engaged everyone and released the other hand!” exclaimed Judge Walter H. Rice, at the IofC national forum, Building Trust in America, in Dayton, Ohio, 15-16 June.

Rice, a senior United States district judge, believes lack of trust limits efforts in cities across the country to grow and prosper. He co-chairs the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations begun eight years ago to implement IofC’s dialogue model for honest conversation in a city deeply divided by race and class. More than 3,000 people have taken part. Several DDRR founders, including Valerie Lemmie, who served as City Manger for Dayton and then Cincinnati hosted the forum.

'How do we build trust in America so that we become a trustworthy nation that is constructive and hope giving to the rest of the world?' asked Rob Corcoran, IofC’s national director. 'Without trust we can’t get to collaboration, we can’t get to justice and we certainly can’t get to real reform.' Councilman Cecil Thomas from Cincinnati described his visits to Richmond three years ago to take part in the Connecting Communities Fellowship Program as 'a life changing experience.' He said, 'We must examine the connection between personal issues and society. Before we can move past any ‘ism’ we must first admit we have this issue inside us.'

Dr Leon Boothe, the president emeritus of Northern Kentucky University and senior advisor to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, said that as a young man he had pledged to devote his life to solving bigotry and hatred. He had served on the faculty of the University of Mississippi during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. In his keynote address, Boothe decried the 'dumbing down' of America, the lack of focused moral standards and the culture of victimization. He called for 'out of the box' thinking, accountability, and a 'coalition of kindred spirits' to meet the challenges facing America.

Marc Levy, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Dayton, asked how the community could be satisfied with a high school drop out rate of 27 percent. 'If one piece of mail in four got lost would we be satisfied? What if one person in four going into hospital didn’t make it?'

Workshops explored the trust factor in education, public/private partnerships, collaboration between business and grassroots leaders, and relations between faith groups. David Campt, who advised President Clinton’s initiative on race, commented, 'It’s easy to talk about lack of trust out in society. Analysis is important. But we need to ask among those who are change agents, how much do we trust each other? Where do we as change agents need to do intentional work?' Campt led a session on personal story telling. 'We tell our stories to invite others into a circle of trust where barriers can be broken down and real change can occur.' An elementary school teacher said, 'Trust flies in the face of our culture. We are highly competitive. Our staff is all female and all white, but there is a lot of mistrust!'

Clementine Lue Clarke, a Chinese Jamaican from Boston said, 'I am in an intercultural marriage…it was only 40 years ago that it became legal to be in such a relationship.' With Zeke Reich from New York she presented tools for personal and social change tested over decades by Initiatives of Change. Listening in times of silence and application of standards of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love can offer direction and provide building blocks of trust. Reich, who will enter law school in September, noted that during quiet times he saw his own motives more clearly. 'I had a rosy picture of myself that was not honest.'

Click on these links to read daily reports on the forum!
Friday June 15
Saturday June 16

Sermon by Rev. Richard E. Sindall, of First Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NY, on his experience in Dayton