What are these Values you speak of?

Maybe it’s me, but when someone says “value”, it’s impossibly vague.

I get it, you want a short-cut to mean “things I agree with and I think we should teach our kids”. But what are these values, exactly? Where do they come from? What do they mean?

The shortcut doesn’t help you there. Especially when you’re talking to people who might not even agree with what your values are. You say values, you mean one thing, they think another thing.

Maybe we should all just throw out that world. Let it mean something about data and databases and command lines. Let the values fall where they may.

Instead, let’s talk about actual values. Concrete values. Individually, and not as a group. There are important concepts here that need discussing. Respect for human life. Whether the group or the individual takes precedence. How to respond to authority. And so on.

I know it’s easier to just say “values”. It’s a wink and a nod. It’s code. But remember, we don’t all speak in the same code. In my social circle there may be a person who believes (sidenote: this person is wrong) that capital punishment is a good idea, and another person who believes that it is a crime on the level of aborting a child. They both talk about “values”. They both talk about how they wish to safeguard human life. They both speak the same language, but they mean very different things.

You may find when you define your terms that a lot of people pop out of the woodwork (suddenly, to your mind) who disagree with you. (You probably, on some level, already know this; this is one reason you use the code.) But then, this is healthy. Diversity breeds strength. Mono-cultures are fragile. Group-think that tolerates no divergence is brutality.

We need our conservatives, our liberals, our democrats, our socialists. We need different moral and political values. We need to remember that if there is one right way to live, we need the conversation in order to get there.