By Vincent Gorre
While on a trip recently, I was reading an online magazine during my flight and came across a news article about a Reader’s Digest poll of “100 Most Trusted People in America.”1 I was shocked to learn that among the top ten, seven were movie actors and actresses! The article further says that those who made it to the list were chosen for their “integrity, character, exceptional talent, drive to personal excellence, internal moral compass, message, honesty and leadership.”
So what is shocking about all this? I immediately pulled out my copy of Return To Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got There and Where We Need to Go by John Horvat II, because I think I just found one more proof of the validity of one of the author’s assertions. As part of the solution to our impending crisis, Mr. Horvat talks of the need for “representative characters,” in our society “who would take upon themselves the arduous task of seeking the common good.”2 Who are these “representative characters?” In reality, these are the people whom we should trust. Mr. Horvat defines a representative character as “a person who perceives the ideals, principles, and qualities that are desired and admired by a community or nation, and translates them into concrete programs of life and culture.”3
The question is this: Do Americans believe that these movie stars are trustworthy because they embody their ideals and principles and that in reality (i.e., in their real lives, and not the acting roles they play) they live those ideals and principles? Mr. Horvat adds that “modern culture discourages the idea of representative characters and proposes false and unrepresentative characters that correspond to our mass society.”4 I think this is precisely what is happening here. The transformation of American society into masses of people is promoted by the mass media, which explains why a poll of the most trusted people in America would most likely result in movie stars and media celebrities occupying the top 10 in the list.
Who then should we find in a list of America’s most trusted people? In times of crisis, we must trust those natural leaders in all levels of our society who are not only virtuous in their private lives but also willing to sacrifice for the good of all.
1 “Reader’s Digest Trust Poll: Denzel Wahington, Robin Roberts Among America’s ‘Most Trusted Celebs,’” The Huffington Post, May 21, 2013.
2 John Horvat II, Return To Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society-Where We’ve Been, How We Got There and Where We Need to Go, York Press, York, Penn., 2013, p. 200.