Core Values

Inspired by the “Core Values & Beliefs” of MindSpring, these are my most deeply-held Core Values, in no particular order:

  • Question everything. Any belief which won’t allow itself to be questioned is automatically suspect.
  • Research, research, research. Never assume that something is true, just because you read or heard it somewhere. Before you pass along some bit of news that upsets you or makes you angry, make sure it’s not a hoax. Just because something resonates with you emotionally is not sufficient reason to spread things that aren’t true.
  • Know the difference between your opinions and facts. No matter how right you may know yourself to be in your opinion, that does not make it a fact. Unless there is actual evidence to back it up, it’s not a fact. That doesn’t mean that your opinions are any less important, just that they are exactly that: opinions.
  • Always consider the other side(s) of every opinion. No matter how strongly you feel about something, never be afraid to try to look at it from the other side. In most cases, it probably won’t change your mind, but you’ll come away with a much better understanding of both your position and theirs.
  • Avoid false equivalence. As important as it is to consider all sides of every situation, that does not mean that every position is equally valid. Giving fair consideration to contrary opinions is not the same as having no opinion at all.
  • Understand that there is a difference between having someone disagree with you and being attacked. Learn that difference, because it’s a very important distinction that some people just don’t get. You are also not being repressed or persecuted, just because someone doesn’t agree with you.
  • Don’t demonise people who disagree with you. Even if they’re clearly on the wrong side of history, they’re still human beings and they’re often just angry and frightened. Even people who do and say truly horrible things are still not monsters — Monsters can be easily dismissed. People have to be dealt with.
  • No matter how heated the argument, resist the urge to be unkind. You can make your point without intentionally trying to hurt someone. Even if they say cruel things to you, don’t respond to them the same way. If you can’t make your point without being mean, then just walk away.
  • Keep in mind that there are lots of grey areas. In fact, there are way more things that fall into a grey area than there are things that are straight-up black-and-white. Real life is messy, complicated and nuanced. As comforting as it might be sometimes to just put everything (and everyone) into nice, neat little boxes, the world just doesn’t work that way. Even facts can change in the face of new evidence (see also #1, above).
  • Whenever possible, try to build up and encourage the people around you. Offer sincere praise any time it’s warranted, and kind criticism, when needed. Always strive to make the people in your life feel better about themselves. Life is rough, and if you can do (or say) some small thing that makes it a little better for someone, you really can’t ask for more than that.

I’m sure I don’t always live up to them, but they give me something to aim for.

 

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