Values Make Us Who We Are

Asked us what our deepest values are, we’re probably quick to reply. Everything we mention will be meaningful and valuable to us and to the world.

But here’s the question. When you look at your life, at the way you go through your daily endeavors, how much are those values represented in your experience? Could your best friend or a colleague readily identify your values based on their observations of your actions? What about someone who doesn’t know you well, like wait staff or service people? Based on your interactions with them, what values might they say you live out?

I don’t know about you, but I often miss the mark when living out my deepest values. Sometimes it happens when I’m scared, tired or lazy, or just not paying attention. Values around Peace such as Justice; Equality; Love; Joy; Caring for our Planet, are my focus. I work intentionally on living into those. But when I’m honest with myself, there are a lot of days that I could be more aligned with the values I cherish. In additional to the personal, there are cultural values. We all recite “with liberty and justice for all,” but how are they demonstrated in our nation’s housing, education, healthcare, and courts?

We all want to be kind and decent and caring. Working as a hospital chaplain, I notice how many people go out of their way to use their wisdom and training, lend a helping hand, offer an encouraging word, or simply provide a listening presence. There is certainly an ethical or moral expectation in hospitals to do such things.

It is worth our while to examine not only our values, but also the way our actions are aligned with them. If we find ragged edges between those, changing our behavior to model our values will drastically improve our lives. The commitment to be kind lowers our isolation from one another and builds community. The values of Peace are demonstrated with each simple, “Hello, how are you, let me get this door.” As living our Peace values becomes instinctual, then our lives become easier and the world around us, more Peaceful.

I will not stop saying this, we are all Peacemakers. Peace is not a shallow commitment on our part. When we choose to align our actions with our values. Oh, the people we’ll meet, the beauty we’ll notice, and the abundance we’ll share…

Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.