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What It Means to Lose Trust 


The Covid period confronts us with difficult truths, growing each day, that many suspect but do not want to believe. They are becoming impossible to ignore. Pharmaceutical companies and governments colluded to suppress effective early treatments to enable an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a vaccine that made people and companies billions. Many lives could have been saved with these early treatments. Lockdowns crushed small businesses, harmed children, and hurt and divided families while creating new billionaires and making existing ones richer. 

Violating the First Amendment, the federal government colluded with Internet companies to suppress free speech on Covid natural immunity, vaccines, lockdowns, masks, and vaccine injuries. Truths from this terrible period keep surfacing, forcing us to look. Yet, we often deny what we see and turn away. This is not a new phenomenon. Examples of massive denials preceded this time. They accumulate and are staggering. What is the cost of our turning away? 

Nobody wanted to believe that United Nations troops would rape children and sell them for sex in countries around the world. I didn’t. When I think of the United Nations, I wish to think of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and buying and sending Christmas cards from them with bright designs or children’s artwork. No one wanted to believe that the UN “Peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic would rape children in exchange for giving the children food or money or that victims’ cries would be ignored.

UN “peacekeepers” committed similar crimes in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Sudan.

At one of the Virginia schools where I taught, a first grader, Elias, age six, from Sudan would smile in anticipation and wait for me to say to him in the hallway, “There he is. It’s Elias. . .from Sudan!” His face beamed with beauty and light each time I said this to him, each time I saw him in the hallway. His family arrived here as refugees through the International Rescue Committee. 

A Google search with the typed words, “UN troops raping children” produces page after page of reports from a vast array of publications around the world, including Voice of America, Al Jazeera, South China Morning Post, Public Broadcasting Station, The Guardian, Forbes, The Himalayan Times, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, with reports published as recently as 2023 in The Economist. With so many reports of these horrific abuses of children, why has it continued so long? Where were the gatekeepers, the ones who saw and acted? Where were the true peacekeepers? Sadly, too often people choose not to see what is right before them. 

Nobody wants to believe that beloved and trusted priests would molest and rape children, but many did in a Boston, Massachusetts community and in Baltimore, Maryland. Nobody wants to believe that leaders in the Catholic Church would ignore children’s cries and parents’ complaints, cover up these crimes, and transfer rapist priests to other parishes. 

A quick search reveals reports from around the world, including the French Catholic Church; the Catholic Church in Portugal, where priests abused children for more than 70 years, according to the report; and in various parts of the US with abuse so widespread over decades that there is a group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). No one wants to believe religious leaders would seduce, trick, and violate children in sacred places, in places we want to believe are safe and wholesome.

Nobody wanted to believe that Jeffrey Epstein tricked and seduced poor and already hurt girl children to have sex with him and then manipulate and trap them into having sex with many other men in a carefully planned and orchestrated way. Epstein had everything, money, property, influence, and gave millions to major institutions, including major universities. Powerful men used his services to have sex with children. Nobody wants to believe this. I didn’t want to believe it when I saw Epstein’s picture with Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and many other politicians, actors, and powerful men, who already have everything – money, lawyers, connections, multiple opulent homes. Before these terrible revelations, I didn’t even know or care who Epstein was.

“Everybody Knew About Jeffrey Epstein. Nobody Cared,” reads a July 12, 2019 Boston Globe headline. Nobody wants to believe this headline is true. I didn’t. But it was. Many people knew that rich and powerful men molested and raped girl children, even had events and parties around such crimes. For years, nobody said or did anything to stop it, to help these girls get safe and free.

Gavin de Becker in his book, The Gift of Fear, writes about how we often ignore instincts that alert us to danger. When we heed rather than ignore these instincts, they often protect us and loved ones. Children have a powerful sense to detect danger, but sadly, that inner voice is often harmed when they are betrayed or when adults tell them that their instincts are wrong or don’t matter. Women, especially, often ignore their instincts because of their socialization, de Becker argues.

In her book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Ann Salter, who treats sex offenders, discusses how predators trick victims and their families, gain trust by any means, and evade detection because of their skill at manipulation. 

“For every cruelty done to a child, there is an audience of deniers that sees the signals and quickly closes their eyes,” writes de Becker in the Foreword to Salter’s book. “The solution to sexual violence in America is not more laws, more guns, more police, more prisons. The solution to sexual violence is acceptance of reality.” Gavin de Becker writes the Afterword to Ed Dowd’s recent book, Cause Unknown: The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022, published by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s organization, Children’s Health Defense. Why might it be significant in this strange and hard time that de Becker would be involved with this book? 

Nobody wanted to believe that a popular college football coach, Jerry Sandusky, would start a non-profit under the guise of helping troubled boys, who also like football, in order to groom, molest, and rape them. Why did he get away with it for so long? Many suspected or saw abuse, but closed their eyes, turned away, and did nothing. 

Though it is difficult to believe, mothers have lost custody of their children, trying to protect their children from sexual abuse while perpetrators succeeded in influencing courts to take children away from protective mothers. 

We are now called upon again to believe what is difficult to believe – and we are called upon to accept reality. The scope of harms of the last few years has been vast, intricate, almost unfathomable, with many parts and many actors, similar to harms perpetrated by UN troops around the world, to harms perpetrated by the Catholic Church and other churches, and to the devastating harms done in a college town in Pennsylvania, best known for its football program. Yet, the harms of the past few years are larger and are continuing. 

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reports more child sexual abuse crimes online in 2021 than at any other time in their 15-year history. Suicidal ideation, drug abuse and overdoses, and eating disorders rose sharply during lockdowns, especially among children and teenagers. We may not want to believe the widespread harms and devastations of lockdowns, but truths are continually revealed. 

Of course, we don’t want to believe that agencies tasked with regulating products and rejecting unsafe ones before we use them have been captured by private for-profit companies in a trend Robert F. Kennedy Jr, calls “regulatory capture,” meaning these agencies may be untrustworthy because of their competing interests.

Childhood vaccines have been an area that we were not allowed to question. We take our babies to the pediatrician and trust her or him, do as we are told, comfort the baby through the shots. And yet this period has even called into question childhood vaccines. Nobody would want to believe that some shots may be unneeded or could harm children or that the Covid shot was unneeded for children and may harm them. I had no reason to question vaccines before the Covid period and took my babies and children to receive all doctor-recommended shots. The Covid period has called into question almost all of our ideas, however. 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. shares the story of how mothers approached him, begging him to investigate ingredients in vaccines because their children were harmed. He was a successful environmental lawyer and said he did not want to investigate vaccines; he only investigated because he felt he had to. After he shared these stories, I couldn’t help but listen and consider his ideas. Kennedy also questioned the necessity and the safety of Covid shots for children. In interviews, he points out that when he was growing up, children received maybe three or four vaccines. Now they receive about sixty. Chronic disease among children is higher now than at any time in our history, Kennedy says.

Why does the conventional media dismiss Kennedy completely or make fun of him? Perhaps because nobody wants to believe these assertions may have merit, may be true. They are too disturbing. Nobody wants to believe that government agencies and pharmaceutical companies suppressed effective early treatments to push an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of a Covid vaccine. An EUA is not allowed if there are early treatments. No one would want to believe that companies and people sacrificed both truth and safety for profits. I do not want to believe it.

“For every cruelty done to a child, there is an audience of deniers that sees the signals and quietly closes their eyes,” writes de Becker.

Why is it important for us to believe difficult truths? Because when we deny reality, deny the truths of our eyes, ears, and hearts, a predator may lead a young boy away from our sight. A man in church, whom our instincts told us early and clearly may be untrustworthy, violates a girl in secret. Or, a young person is subjected to an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure that our instincts told us may be dangerous.

More than one truth may be present at the same time, which challenges us. Abuse survivors know this very well. A girl may have to reconcile that a coach helped her pass an advanced math class, helped her with college admissions, and sexually abused her while pleading for her silence. A graduate school mentor may have helped you with your dissertation and also made passes at you then assaulted you at a cocktail party. A wife may have to figure out what to do when she learns that her husband sexually abused their daughters. Pharmaceutical companies have developed life-saving drugs; we may have taken some. And, they are for-profit companies, working closely with government regulatory agencies like the FDA, suppressing some drugs and approving others to increase their profits, sometimes to the detriment of our health. Researchers and leaders have shown this occurred during the Covid period.

Competing truths may be difficult and devastating to accept, as we have been enduring in the last few years, but the pain and cognitive dissonance are most certainly survivable, as survivors of childhood sexual abuse and assault survivors can attest. We may even transcend and thrive, be strengthened, and become guides for others.

Why is it important to believe difficult truths? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” writes Paul in his letter to the Philippians (KJV 4:8). Truth is first on this list. 

We may be wrong initially then learn and change with more information, more experience, and more discernment. I certainly have been wrong plenty. Truths arise from all over – from mentors, friends, writers, teachers, outsiders, and questioners. We learn and change.

Former Minnesota State Senator and family physician Scott Jensen questioned early in the Covid period how Covid deaths were calculated. He also questioned vaccines for young people and described how families drove from other states to see him in Minnesota in order to obtain a Covid vaccine exemption for their child when their instincts told them the shot was unnecessary. Medical boards have threatened Jensen’s license.

Truths are continually revealed. Revelations are ongoing. Trust is lost. God is still speaking. Sometimes we blunder events, relationships, information terribly, but we see truths anew. We can repair. We can retrieve that endangered boy or girl, affirm a friend or colleague’s best knowledge and intuitions, trust a mother’s instinct to protect her child; we can listen to our own “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12 (KJV) that grows louder and stronger the more we heed it.

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  • Christine Black

    Christine E. Black's work has been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International, The Virginia Journal of Education, Friends Journal, Sojourners Magazine, The Veteran, English Journal, Dappled Things, and other publications. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Pablo Neruda Prize. She teaches in public school, works with her husband on their farm, and writes essays and articles, which have been published in Adbusters Magazine, The Harrisonburg Citizen, The Stockman Grass Farmer, Off-Guardian, Cold Type, Global Research, The News Virginian, and other publications.

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