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To explore the concept of trust.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


Preparation and materials

  • Gather some stills from the film Finding Nemo (Pixar) and have the means to display them during the assembly.


  1. How many of you have watched Finding Nemo, a Pixar film that was very popular a few years ago?

    Like many films aimed at children, there are quite a few themes in it for us to think about. The one I want to look at today is the idea of trust.
  2. For those of you who don't know the story, I'll give you a quick précis.

    Marlin is clownfish who is afraid of the ocean due to a terrible experience. His son, Nemo, was taken by divers and Marlin ends up trying to find his son, hence the title, Finding Nemo.

    On his adventures, he meets a blue fish with short-term memory loss called Dory. Dory tags along, much to Marlin's chagrin, and they form an unlikely friendship.

    Dory has little fear and Marlin, who is full of fear, struggles to accept what she says. There are plenty of examples of times when Marlin fails to trust Dory, even though, ultimately, she is right, but there are two in particular that are worth mentioning.

    Dory has been told by a shoal of fish to swim along a trench, so she asks Marlin to trust her because that's what friends do. Due to his fear, however, Marlin convinces Dory to swim over the top. They end up in a jellyfish bloom – which is a gathering of jellyfish – and Dory very nearly loses her life. She is left with scars from the encounter.

    Later, when Dory asks Marlin to trust her yet again, he starts to object, but sees the scars left from the jellyfish and realizes that he has to trust her.
  3. So, why is it so difficult for some people to trust and why is it important for us to trust people?

    Small children very rarely have trust issues – they accept that people are trustworthy until they learn otherwise.
  4. Trust is often lost in relationships because of a failure of someone to do something that the other finds important.

    Trust revolves around the fact that someone is reliant on someone for something.
    Trust is a major part of the foundation of interpersonal relationships. It is just as easy to build trust as it is to break it down on a daily basis.
  5. Often we learn not to trust someone as a result of a bad experience. Perhaps we have told them something and they have betrayed our trust by then telling others.

    Trust is something that has to be earned and it is the basis of every relationship we have. As you trust someone more, the relationship deepens, you become closer friends and you let that person into areas of your life you might not do if you didn’t trust him or her in the same way. That is how permanent committed relationships are made and kept, often for many years.

    It also means, however, that you trust the weather forecaster to know what he or she is talking about and you trust your teachers to teach you the right things so you can gain knowledge and, ultimately, pass your exams.
  6. How do you know if you're a trustworthy person? Well, I guess only you truly know if you can be trusted.

    Would I give a two-year-old something very fragile and precious and trust him not to break it? Probably not, but then he doesn't know any different.

    Would you expect your partner or friend to not break something very precious? Probably and you’d be really angry if they did.

    Your parents trust you to be where you tell them you’ll be. If you're not and they find out, they'll be more reluctant to trust you the next time.

Time for reflection

It seems that we all instinctively know those we can trust and those we can't, but sometimes our trust is misplaced. Someone may well have a different understanding of what trust is from us and when these two ideas aren't the same, that is when trust breaks down.

To trust someone and then be betrayed is very hurtful.

Love songs are full of betrayals of trust and the breaking down of relationships because, when this happens, for whatever reason, it is often a loss of trust that leads to it ending.

William Shakespeare wrote in All’s Well That Ends Well, ‘love all, trust a few’. Many put their trust in God. Indeed, billions of people do so every day and this has been so for thousands of years.

So, who will you put your trust in today? How will you know when you can trust someone? The point is, you don't really know – you have to take that leap of faith and 'trust' that they will take care of you and respect you enough to not betray the trust you have placed in them.

If you know that you haven't been as trustworthy as you expect others to be, maybe you might just stop and wonder if you would like someone to betray your trust? I suspect the answer is probably that you would not. So, remember, all your relationships work on trust – on both giving and receiving – and that trust is fragile. You have to work hard to gain it, but you have to work even harder to build it again after a betrayal.

Dear Lord,
May I be as trustworthy towards others as I would like them to be towards me.


‘Father I place into your hands’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 165, 2000 edition, 170, 2008 edition)

Publication date: August 2013   (Vol.15 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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