The US presidential election and recent insurrection at the capitol have forced a reflection on values—particularly in the context of the COVID losses and heightened racial unrest. As dark and upsetting a period as this has been, it has also surfaced discussions on basic values that guide us. Values we often take for granted—truth, justice, compassion, respect, wisdom, and more—shape our decisions and behavior. We need to be guided by the values of our training, experience, sacred scriptures, and families, versus the latest trend on social media.
Tough times like these can serve to reinforce our values, and we need to be mindful of where we focus our attention. The tale of two wolves comes to mind, the metaphor about us all possessing conflicting internal messages, and the wolf or the message that wins is the one we feed. We need to be deliberate about what we feed ourselves—what we read and who we pay attention to—as that influences our world views, values, decisions, and behavior. The information we digest can be transforming in positive as well as ugly ways.
Is democracy in jeopardy? Considering changes in Turkey, Poland, and elsewhere, democracy sure has taken hits over the pasts few years and the US is no longer the go-to example of democratic stability. We’re reminded that democracy is fragile. But it’s also as resilient as the human spirit that has sustained it for hundreds of years.
What can we do? We can strive to live value-driven lives and do our best at home and at work. That means we stick to the truth, take responsibility for our words and actions, and utilize our talents of listening, problem-solving, relationship-building, and communicating, and apply the expertise and experience we’ve gained to support others. We can maintain hope in the face of adversity and help each other through tough times like these. Heck, this capitol disaster occurred within 24 hours of an African American and a Jew being voted into the US Senate–from Georgia no less! Is this the worst disaster in American history? Not as long as we learn from this, continue an honest assessment and keep the dialogue going. There is a lot of work to do of course; there appear to be more opportunists willing to lead a “post truth” era. However with apologies to Ed Harris playing Gene Kranz in Apollo 13, “I believe this could be our finest hour.”