Values v. Education

I recently had a brief interchange on Facebook with two friends. I made the comment, “When was the last time you met someone who changed their vote for a political candidate based on a Facebook post?” I must admit, it is not just a philosophical question for me. I tire of reading posts which are decidedly partisan. But my two friends countered with two comments. The first responded basically that it is important to share different points of view, it is the basis of a strong education. Another posted that he might be in the minority, but he changed his views on minimum wage via a Facebook discussion. Both comments made me think.

The heart of the problem, well beyond Facebook, has to do in our nation of people adopting different values. Let’s take two current issues. Person “A” believes that our current fiscal deficit is the biggest problem facing our nation today. It may even go beyond our nation to the world economy since our nation is such a huge gear in that economic engine. Person “B” believes that climate change is the biggest issue facing our nation. They believe that we have the ability to reduce global warming and are not which will result in severe consequences for future generations.

If these two souls are friends, they likely can share information that the other does not regularly read due to each person’s area of interest. But if person “A” starts flooding person “B” with information on the economy (and person “B” does the same to person “A” on the climate) it ceases to be information sharing but rather a challenge. Each is saying to the other, “You have made a poor decision on what is important in life. At a minimum, your values are not prioritized correctly. Let me share more and more information with you so that you will change your values.” And that, in a nutshell, is what I see as a huge problem in our society. People do not change their values with Facebook slides, bumper stickers, signs, or repeating the latest partisan attacks between parties.

So, if I am interesting in gun control, and I engage someone who believes differently than I do on gun control, I believe it is very possible that one might change the other person’s mind. But if I believe our growing system of incarcerating people in our country is a major problem and you see it as not much of a priority but rather the poor quality of our public roads to be the big issue – I am doubtful that my throwing facts about prisons at you and you throwing information about roads to me is going to change our values.

Now, how do you get people to change their values? That, as a Christian minister, is a very interesting question to me. I think this is a very important thing to do. But the first step has to be get back to a discussion of underlying values and to recognize the people who disagree with us likely are not folks who just need more information to make the right decision.

To use a symphony as an analogy, we have to figure out how to play our various pieces together. But I fear we have devolved into debates over, “the trombone is more important than the tuba.” And in such cases, the trombone and tuba players likely are never going to agree. But if they step back and ask, “How can we play music together?” That is a question worth exploring.

What do you think? What do you value?

Until next time,

Tom

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