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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reflection 30: In Defense of Our Troubling Values

By Jeff Garson
Radical Decency Community
Originally published March 13, 2011

Central to Radical Decency is the belief that:
1. A specific set of values – compete and win, dominate and control – are pre-eminent in our culture and, thus, wildly over-emphasized in our day by day choices; 
2. That the result is incalculable damage ourselves and others; and,
3. If we hope to live differently and better, we need to wean ourselves from the corrosive habits of living, spawned by the relentless emphasis on these values, replacing them with more decent ways of being.
Repeating this formulation over and over, it is easy to create of pantheon of good and bad values.   Respect, understanding and empathy, acceptance and appreciation, fairness and justice are good. Compete and win, dominate and control are bad.

Doing so, however, misses the point. The problem is not inherent in the values themselves.  It lies, instead, in their over-emphasis and the relentless pressure to conform to their strictures.

Radical Decency puts its priority on modeling and promoting virtues that are, in our culture, chronically neglected:  Attending to the well being of the socially and economically disenfranchised; treating others with respect; being empathic and fair even when it draws energy from our competitive aspirations; focusing – with the seriousness it deserves – on our need for rest, reflection, novelty, and play.

The entire reflection is here.

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