Saturday, January 01, 2011


Okay, values are like opinions, everyone has them. Some of them are not helpful for living among people. Some are not helpful for preserving the earth. Some are downright destructive. But, most values have both positive and negative sides. For instance, financial values: The love of money is the root of all evil...the Bible says. Having money means having enough food, clothing, shelter, safety. Money can buy a lot of good things. If you don't have enough money, you beg for used clothing, you apply for Section 8 or government housing, you hit the food pantries regularly, and you are not even close to having personal safety. Short of a disaster (natural or created), money can produce safety, good food, new clothing, houses, recreational toys, etc.

If you work and save your money, you can provide for yourself - usually. If you have capital investments, then you need to make sound decisions about your money. We are all concerned about money. For most of us, the question is, "How much is enough?" Divorce attorneys make a lot of money helping people decide that question.

If you only have enough to provide the major needs in a bare way or even a halfway decent way, you know exactly how much is "enough". If you have made a lot of money or inherited a lot of money, you have a vaguer idea of how much is "enough". That's a value decision. Anything that comes along more than that "enough" requires a decision, and that's where values are important.

We humans tend to congregate with and marry persons who have similar values - values about money, being on time, eating meals together, respect, violence, animals, and what is "enough". When we step outside that group with similar values, we tread on dangerous ground. Racism, ageism, sexism and most of the "isms" are generated when we meet and interact with people who have different (but equally valid, good and useful) values.

Now, that's what I want to consider - who judges what is equally valid, good and useful in values. What happens when two people marry who have different values? They either learn from one another or the marriage ends quickly in divorce. Even when they learn from one another, the marriage may still end in divorce. Counseling may help or not.

Love transcends values. Sometimes love is a conscious decision. Sometimes love is a chemical reaction. Sometimes love draws opposites. But, love pays little attention to values. Sex pays even less attention to values. Mixed marriages - those of people of differing values - are harder to maintain and more frequently end in divorce. That's why we have premarital counseling. Of course, pre-love counseling would be better.

How much is "enough" changes with how much you have. How much is "enough" changes with your chosen group. How much is "enough" changes throughout our lives. The values behind that decision of how much is "enough" don't often change. We may acquiesce to another's value decision(s), but changing values is as difficult as changing our beliefs in a higher power or lack of belief. The change requires being "born again", a mountain-top experience, or being broken - a startling event that causes us to look at life differently.

I pray that we will all have those startling events to change our unhealthy values, that we will delve more deeply into the values we have that promote peace and earthly goodness. And, I pray that we will look carefully and consider with love all those people whose values differ from ours.

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