Values into action: Strange Bedfellows

Values into action: Strange Bedfellows

When we meet on that bridge between our differences, let us not look for what divides us. Let us look for our commonalities. Let us look for the places where our values align and the ways in which we can walk forward together toward the change we want to see. And let us know that the journey will change us for the better. 

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Values into action: Easy Virtue

Values into action: Easy Virtue

Easy Virtue …. sounds appealing doesn’t it? This idea that we can do good, and feel a frisson of virtue with very little effort is appealing. After all so many of us feel horrified by the harshness, injustice, fearsome political manoeuvring taking over our society, and at the same time we feel powerless to change it all. We may find a cause or two and dedicate what time, effort and money we can manage, but for many of us that is very limited and there seem to be so many worthwhile causes.

Which is where the idea of Easy Virtue comes in. It is a very simple concept where, rather than requiring the resources you cannot give, you organise your life so that the many things we all do, routinely, are chosen because as well as being what we want and need, they do good...

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Values into action: The Three 'R's of Action

Values into action: The Three 'R's of Action

Given the mania of the past two weeks, today seems like a reasonable time to pause - to hope that there are no new Trump tantrums this hour - and to try to get our footing again.

Many of us have taken action in various ways already. We have protested. We have donated money to organisations we hope can make a difference. We have spoken out on social media and maybe elsewhere. We have pressed our elected representatives to take action. We have worked at helping refugees.  We have tried to exercise kindness and compassion. There are probably more ways that some of you have already taken action. We all realise that this is just a start to work that will need to go on for a very long time.

And many of us have expressed that we really don’t know what to do. I’ve heard discussions about whether or not protests are helpful - and whether they might, in fact, play into the hands of our opponents.

It’s a complex web of possibilities in the early stages of a crisis that is, in itself, complex and shrouded by uncertainty and dishonesty.

I want to offer a simple way to think about how we respond, which I’ll call the three ‘R’s of action: Resist, Relieve, and Reconcile. I will maintain that all three are necessary, that we probably can’t do all at once, but that we must keep all three in our hearts all the time...

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Values into action: What Matters?

Values into action: What Matters?

We may value justice but find that action there can conflict with the value we place on our safety. We may value charity but need to weigh that value against our valuing of a comfortable home to live in, leisure activities, and other uses of money that make our lives more liveable.

So, we may hold many different values, those values vary in importance, and our values can - and regularly do - come into conflict with one another.

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Values into action: Martin Luther King Jr

Values into action: Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an imperfect man who gave much to the American people and the people of the world. His work arguably accelerated the advent of civil rights for African Americans. He also brought focus to the struggles of economic inequality and lent his weight to the opposition of the war in Vietnam.

And King made a large and lasting contribution to non-violent activism, demonstrating that this approach could bring victory to the oppressed over oppressors who seemed to have all the power and tools of the state at their disposal.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a human being. He did what he did not alone, but with many allies and many many more unsung followers willing to risk their security, safety, and their very lives for the cause.

Why was King able to put his values into action in such a powerful way?

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Values into Action: Emmeline Pankhurst

Values into Action: Emmeline Pankhurst

Many - if not all - of us have a sense that our actions fall short of our values. Why is that? What accounts for the gap between our values and our action? 

Do we know how to put our values into action? What does that take? Can anyone take effective action or is it something that only some can do? Can it be learned? 

These are the sort of questions we will wrestle with over the next three months.

Along the way, we’ll look at at a few specific people to see what we can learn from them about putting values into action. Today, we consider Emmeline Pankhurst, the prominent campaigner for women’s suffrage who lived from the middle of the 19th century into the early 20th.

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