What are our national values?

Today at 11 am, I stopped working for a few minutes to participate in the Moment of Silence for the victims in Tucson Arizona.

As I paused, I thought about the millions of people around our nation who were also participating. I got the chills.

I wondered who the other people were, where they lived, how they were effected by the tragedy, and what values we have in common.

This experience made me think it would be helpful that as a nation we spent some time examining and agreeing on our values. My theory is that we would realize we want the same things. Knowing we want the same things, I expect we’d be more tolerant, respectful, and helpful to each other – even when we believe in different approaches.

In light of this, I’m proposing we explore the following:

  1. What are our current national values?
  2. Should any values be added or detracted, if so, which and why?
  3. How might approaching our challenges with our values in mind make a difference?
  4. What simple behaviors can we practice everyday as individuals that benefit the greater good?
Please leave a comment below with your thoughts. Please start your response with the question(s) you are answering.


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Terrence (Terry) Hill

1. Resilience in the face of adversity.

2. We should preserve our freedom of speech, but regain some civility and respect for others.

3. We should be careful when we “target” others, we need to value others even if we disagree with their opinions.

4. We need to value life, all life, and stop worshipping the hate-mongers. We are better than that.

subroto mukerji

If we look in detail at the events you can see the national values:

The intern – Nothing short of heroic behavior. The dude actually saved her life. Heroism at the oddest of times. People actually giving selflessly of themselves.

Respect – Despite the vitriol of the left and right, people actually came together and prayed for the Congress woman and the others who should not be nameless.

Should any values be detracted – Rush to judgement. Given the tools at our command it would be very difficult to do that.

Stephen Peteritas

I’m not sure how to put this into words but in everyday situations like opening a door and just any quick kind gesture Americans fall really short in comparison to other cultures but for some reason we always seem to banned together/ do the right thing in the BIG situations when the chips are really down. I’m not sure whether I admire that or not.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

In my introduction to public administration course I ask the students to decide which value is more important: equality or freedom. The point of this exercise is to have the students realize that our form of government is a constitutional-republic in that we value individual freedom but also the rights of the minority. This tension between majority rules and individual rights came from the colonists’ experiences under British rule and their brilliant creation of the U.S. Constitution to manage the tension for the betterment of all citizens. Remember that the first three words of the Preamble are “We the People.”

Thus a simple behavior that should be practiced by all the people is civility. All U.S. citizens are in this together and most of us share the same goals of having a good life for ourselves and our family. It is possible to have profound disagreements with people but still treat each other with respect and openness. What I find in the recent coverage of the Arizona shootings is a bitter irony of both sides screaming at each other to be more civil. Model civility first and you will be surprised at the number of people who will respond in kind.

And yes, there are jerks. But why add yourself to the jerk population?

Lizette Molina

So many people rushed to blame political and news/entertainment figures and rushed to judgement. On my homepage on another social network, I saw comments from friends and friends-of-friends saying such things as “Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, etc have blood on their hands this day”; “Tea Baggers and other right-wingers are all murderers”, etc. There was a visible level of hate towards anyone with a different political view. Yet both sides do it to each other (reference 9/11 and all the anti-Muslim and anti-Liberal rhetoric then). I don’t understand why some people have to rashly assign blame to others they don’t personally agree with rather than the person who commits the atrocity in question. In my view, only the perptrators of an atrocity are to blame. It’s just that simple for me. I don’t think the Bible, Reaganites, or PTL Club are to blame for people who kill abortionists or bomb their clinics; nor do I think that the Koran is to blame for the actions of a few zealots on 9/11. And I don’t think Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, etc are to blame for the actions of the gun man in this case.

I value Freedom of Speech above many things. But I would like to see all of us exercise a little self-restraint; treat others as you would like to be treated. We don’t have to stoop to the level of people who hate others because of an ideological difference. We CAN make a difference by being kind to each other, respectful of each other’s opinions. Short of immediate heroic actions/law enforcement intervention, I do not believe we can stop someone who is bent on killing others. I don’t think that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens is the answer, nor do I think that writing yet more conflicting or confusing laws is the answer. Bad people are out there and they will do what they will do. But we can make a difference in how we treat each other after tragic events. We can be kind to each other. People who have banded together to show support for the victims and families of the victims in this shooting – they display the behaviors we should all strive for – kindness, respect, patience.

Thank you so much for opening this dialogue on govloop. I find it refreshing to read the respectful comments from others, who can engage in this conversation without finger-pointing or mud-slinging. That’s part of why I like govloop.