Our Values Matter
By Joanne Grady Huskey and Kimberly Weichel
We’ve entered an unprecedented era of dis-ease and turmoil. As much as we might feel like putting our heads in the sand, pulling the covers over our heads, stop reading the news, discontinue watching cable TV,, or even leaving the country, we, Americans, have to remember our values and the importance of acting on them. There is an urgent call today for active citizenship and a renewed look at the very values we hold dear.
We Americans, whether red or blue, believe that men and women are created equal and that freedom of speech is sacrosanct. We know that truth matters. We believe in freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, and a government that cares about, represents, and protects all of us. We believe no one is above the law, and we all have an equal right to succeed in our individual pursuit of happiness. We hold these truths to be self evident... yet, lately, they are not.
The truth is we all have far more in common than we have differences. We all, whether Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, want safety, security, meaningful livelihood that supports us, a good education for ourselves and our family, and a secure home. We love our country and want the freedom and opportunity to pursue our dreams and interests. When talking with others, we need to remember that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Polarization hurts all of us.
Yet, at this time, there is an onslaught of backward policies that exclude rather than include, roll back much needed environmental legislation, undermine women’s reproductive rights, and curtail immigration key to this country. We need to remind ourselves and our neighbors that the values which we may have taken for granted are being eroded. This is not who we are or what we stand for.
It is time to vote, speak up, and take action. We see voting and civic engagement as an important way to express our values through action for the good of the whole. We call this spiritual activism, which is about showing up in the world as agents for change. We show up as our whole, spiritual selves, when we call our senators and representatives, when we march, when we protest, when we volunteer, when we donate, when we organize, when we listen, when we post on social media. Disengagement is a passing of the torch to others to take responsibility for our future. We all have a stake in our country’s future.
Times like these require us to stand up, confront key issues head-on, and speak out on behalf of the marginalized. As citizens who care, we need to participate actively in the collective process. We work for justice and equality while holding politicians accountable for their actions. The vote is the guarantee of our liberty.
So we are now at a crossroads, one in which the foundations of our democracy are being eroded. We need to speak our truth. We need to share our hard-won wisdom. And we need to act and we need to vote!
Never feel powerless to make the world a better place. It’s not only our own fate riding on the outcome, since what happens in America affects the world.
If we re-examine our Declaration of Independence we see our forefathers rejected the British for “taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” They rejected the British rule for “suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”
Unless we wake up, lead by example and act on the values we all have in common, our nation is in jeopardy. We cannot let this happen to us, personally, or as a nation.
As Abraham Lincoln said years ago. “a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Our values matter! Cherish them, live them and do everything you can to preserve them.
Joanne Grady Huskey is an author, speaker and coach. She is Co-Founder and Vice President of iLive2Lead Young Women's Leadership Summit, Co-Founder of Global Adjustments (India); and of the American International School of Chennai (India).