The C.S.O. and I recently watched and greatly enjoyed Mark Wahlberg’s star-vehicle Shooter, about a master sniper who’s used as the frame-up pigeon in an assassination conspiracy. It’s a high-body-count action movie and replete with entertainment throughout, but one particular bit will remain in my memory for a long time to come. Sniper Bob Lee Swagger, played by Wahlberg, is seeking information about an assassin from “Mr. Rate,” an old guns-and-shooters expert played by Levon Helm:

Bob Lee Swagger: Suppose I was looking for man who could make a 2200 yard cold bore shot. Who’s alive that could do that?
Mr. Rate: Seems I heard about a shot like that being made not too long ago, said the guy’s name was Bob Lee Swagger. Never met the man, so I wouldn’t know him.
Bob Lee Swagger: Yeah, they said that all right.
Mr. Rate: They also said that artificial sweeteners were safe, WMDs were in Iraq, and Anna Nicole married for love.

     (For anyone who’s not in touch with considerations of long-range lethality, the shot Swagger refers to in the above is kinda tough. Most snipers couldn’t do it, and those who could would prefer not to be named here.)

     Of course, Mr. Rate’s central point is the dubiousness, not merely of the claimed shot, but of just about anything “they” might tell you today. The diet of BS we’re fed daily by politicians, the news media, and well-placed persons in what I call the “disinformation clerisy” has inculcated a policy of default distrust in the average American. This is among the most significant sociological developments of recent decades — not because it’s uncommon globally, but because for many decades Americans were the exception to default distrust. We were the folks who give money to strangers and seal million-dollar deals with a handshake. The peoples of other lands viewed us as naïve bordering on insane.

     Exceptions no longer. The BSers have re-educated us.


     I’ve been somewhat bitter, recently. I was the victim of a theft. That theft cost me two things, and I can’t decide which of them I valued more.

     The first thing I lost to the thief was a valuable rifle, one the state of New York has decreed I can’t legally replace. It cost me “deep in the purse” to acquire it in the first place. It cost me still more to hold onto it against the urgings of others. And now it’s gone, a total loss.

     The second thing I lost was my ability to trust anyone who’s out of my direct supervision. You see, the thief had to be a member of a work crew that I allowed into my home, to labor without having me watch them, on the assumption that they were trustworthy. However, as there were several such crews, each of which had several members, I can’t know specifically who robbed me.

     I know, as a general proposition, that most people are, to a certain degree at least, trustworthy. But “once burned, twice shy,” as they say. These days, I don’t trust anyone I can’t see plainly – and I prefer that anyone who enters my home should keep his hands where I can see them.


     I’ve written about trust before. Indeed, one of those essays has achieved a certain notoriety. Today, on the day after we commemorate the keeping of the greatest promise ever made, trust is a particularly painful subject.

     I lament what we’ve lost, but I can’t say how we might reacquire it. What I can say is that the America we remember from earlier times cannot exist without that default disposition to trust one another. It was a precondition for everything we loved and miss today. The willingness to trust in one another’s honesty in word and deed is what made that nation the crowning glory of human civilization.

     Instead, we’re in the position of “Mr. Rate” in Shooter. We’ve been fed so much utter and complete horseshit, on every conceivable subject and from every imaginable point in our society, that we can believe nothing we hear a priori, without multiple confirmations from independent sources. It’s far safer to assume that anyone who approaches us, whether in person or through some channel of communication, might be one of “them:” a conspiracy designed to deceive and confuse us into immobility.

     Whom do you trust these days, Gentle Reader – and how far? How many persons would you be willing to trust:

  • With access to your most valuable possessions?
  • With access to your spouse or children?
  • With your personal secrets?
  • With your reputation?

     I paused after the above. I was about to write “It’s worth thinking about,” but realized that I could not. I could not decide, in this cowardly old world in which we live today, the majority of us unwilling even to shake the hand of the person next to you in the pew at Mass, whether thinking about it is worth the agita. And with that, I’ll wish you all a nice day.


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    • doubletrouble on April 10, 2023 at 9:25 AM

    Sorry to hear this Fran. In answer to your questions: there are *maybe* ten people in my life in which I have full trust. All others are politely considered untrustworthy/potential criminals until they prove themselves otherwise.
    “In God we trust, all others pay cash”

    This isn’t the world we grew up in, anymore.

    I would expect the law should be able to find the thief by checking into all the people who entered your home; the contractors involved must know who was working for them…



    • Tracy C Coyle on April 10, 2023 at 12:26 PM

    For decades I’ve said that the lack of respect, not the ‘street cred’ variety, but the old fashion TRUST in someone, even ourselves, is a root of our social ills.  If I consider every person I meet on the street a potential risk, there is no trust.  If I can’t trust, I can’t respect and the cycle deepens with every insult.

    I don’t trust many people, mainly because like you, I’ve been burned soooo, sooo, many times.  From the early bullying, to the later ‘ghosting’ by so-called friends.  Sad about the loss of the rifle, but in the end it is just a thing.  The lost of trust however is uncalculatable and irreplaceable.

    • gl on April 10, 2023 at 2:14 PM

    Back a few years ago a tornado uprooted a 2 hundred year old tree bringing it down across the back of my home. It took the contractor 19 m0nths to complete the rebuild as this home was over 115 years old and finding matching bricks, etc was a pain for all around. And of course the rain for two days ruined many things. So his people came in and packed up what was left of my library and all of my kitchen. I ate out almost every day as the ovens, stovetop and fridge were all removed. Nightmare doesn’t begin to describe this but when done and boxes were returned and items put away it was amazing at how much was missing. As we had had 2 antique shops and my hubby had collections, various items of major pieces turned up missing. Box of all sterling items, from knifes, straws, (don’t ask), lighters etc., never made it back. Autographed books, and private photos of an outing with Elvis in the back yard at Graceland. Gone. Called contractor, who carry insurance for this type of problem, told me I had to file a police report and for his insurance they had to have the workers take a lie detector test. Police didn’t laugh but close enough. So that’s my tale of woe but with it being one item call the police, file the report, let them deal with the contractor. And call the police every week. They have the resource to put out a notice to all pawn shops that you don’t. Good luck.

    • GlennH on April 10, 2023 at 2:32 PM

    In my state theft of a firearm is Grand Theft.

    Here’s what a workmate of mine did: came back from a hunting trip and the neighbor’s teenage kid was out mowing the lawn. He left his vehicle unlocked as he unloaded various bins and boxes, making trips into his house to put items away. He finished unloading and suddenly realized his large caliber handgun was missing. Also, the neighbor’s kid had stopped mowing the lawn. He approached the neighbor and talked to the kid’s dad. Gave the details and said he was going inside to get a cup of coffee. After he finished the coffee, he would check under the front seat to see if the handgun was there, otherwise would call the police.

    After he finished his coffee, he went out and lo and behold, the gun was under the front seat. No further questions were raised.

    I would contact the contractors and provide the details, and say that if the rifle is returned within a short time, no questions will be asked and no law enforcement will be involved. If not, law enforcement WILL be involved, with the contractors as the first suspects.

    And as an aside, I have learned any workers on the premises view that as a license to steal.

    • Bob on April 10, 2023 at 9:11 PM

    Hey Francis;


    it used to be said that “A Mans Word was his Bond” but now it is the hustle, and keeping your word is for suckers.  if you are able to skim the system or hustle someone, you are respected.  Then they wonder they people don’t trust other people anymore.  it shows a breakdown of society in my eyes, it is the rule of the strongman now.

    • Ragin' Dave on April 11, 2023 at 12:54 AM

    I remember growing up and never locking the doors to the house.

    Now days, my parents lock the doors even when they’re at home.

    It’s amazing what rushing away from God will do to a society.  As well as welcoming in people from countries who don’t have the same morals and society as the country they rush into.

    • doubletrouble on April 11, 2023 at 7:04 PM

    “It’s amazing what rushing away from God will do to a society.”
    You hit it, Ragin’… the Catholic Church began it’s self destruction in 1969, & the world has gone straight downhill from there.
    Lord, save us.

    • MMinWA on April 12, 2023 at 1:39 PM

    For starters, I don’t trust anyone I don’t know. So many fake smiles, it’s sickening.  And I would never let workmen into my home without me being there. Maybe that’s why I’m such a dog guy, absolutely no guile with them.

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