Archive for the ‘Values’ Category

I suspect that many of us prefer to live in a world where the majority of others agrees with us on significant matters.  Unless you’re unusually driven by conflict and controversy, you have a strong affinity for those who are a lot like you.  That’s understandable.  It’s a fact of basic human nature even if not politically correct.

One of the frequently discussed aspects of Tuesday’s election exit polls is the changing demographic of the American voting population.  It’s less white than it used to be.  It’s less religious than it used to be.  It’s less conservative as well.  That would appear to be a trend that doesn’t bode well for the future voting success of someone with the philosophical leanings of this white, conservative Christian.

America believes strongly in the idea of majority rule, although we go out of our way to make exceptions to that when we want to protect the interests of minority groups.  We say we believe in diversity, yet we tend to limit that appreciation to categories of physical, ethnic and sexual differences rather than diversity of thought and values which are not tolerated well by those on either side of the aisle.

If we learn much from Tuesday’s election, we at least learn this isn’t your parents’ America any more.  It may or may not be the America you want it to be.

As I reflect on the election, I come back to the simple thought that I can’t expect people who do not share my beliefs and values to think and act (and vote) the same way I do.  To expect otherwise is foolish.  If a majority are not conservative, then I can’t expect conservative positions and candidates to prevail.  If a majority are not Christian, then I shouldn’t be surprised when the results are at odds with traditional, biblical Christianity.

It is pointless to fret or fume over what I believe is my new minority status.  It is what it is and I will be who I am and I will stand for what I believe regardless of the consequences.

Therefore, leap year lesson #310 is Don’t expect those with different values to be or act like you.

One of the fun things I’m doing during my time off from work this week is visiting some pizza places I’ve never been to before.  Sunday afternoon my wife and I went to Mellow Mushroom Pizza in St. Matthews, KY.  It was tasty and had a great atmosphere, but was too pricey to suit us, and the service was too slow.  We may go back for the convenience of a place we can walk to and the variety of menu choices, but we wouldn’t go out of our way to go there due to the price.

Tonight we went to The New Albanian Brewing Company off Grant Line Rd. in New Albany, IN.  Along with my son and daughter-in-law, we enjoyed very good food and excellent service, all for half the price per person as Mellow Mushroom.  We had to drive across the Ohio River and go very much out of our way to get there, but it was worth it and I would happily return.

I still have one more place I want to try this week – Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint in Louisville.  I’ll add a comment to this post after I’ve been there to let you know how it goes.

From experiencing the first two establishments, it is apparent that a simple meal of pizza and drinks can vary widely in price.  That isn’t news to anyone who has experimented with everything from store-bought frozen pizza to delivery from a major chain, to a more enjoyable dining experience elsewhere.  So how do you decide which to patronize?

Sometimes, you may just have to go with what is fastest or cheapest or most convenient, but if you have a choice, what makes one stand out?  That’s where the concept of value comes in, and not just in a financial sense, but also in the aspect of the question “What is important to you?”

Of the two we’ve visited this week, if we want convenience, Mellow Mushroom wins.  If we want financial value, New Albanian wins.

In life, there isn’t always a single right answer to the question of which is best – for pizza or a host of other choices.

Leap year lesson #251: Value is relative.

In an earlier post, I commented on how we sometimes need to act our way into the right feelings.  Today’s lesson is similar in that it deals with a back door way of discovering something about ourselves.

If given proper warning, most of us would likely answer questions about what we value most with respectable, principled statements that others would find admirable.  But there can be a wider gap than we’d like to think between what we say we value and what we actually do with our lives.

The graphic at the top right of this post was what triggered today’s comments.  I ran across it while searching for something else and thought it worthy of attention.  If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind wanders.

It’s probably easier for other people to honestly answer the question of what we value than it is for us because they have the ability to observe us from their vantage point – to see how we live, how we work, how we treat others, how we spend our time and money.  Of course, they don’t see everything there is to know about us because we may choose to keep some things secret.

One valid approach, then, is to just ask others around us where they think our heart is – what is it they believe we value most?  A good, honest friend or acquaintance should be able to answer that from their perspective.  The graphic above, however, gives us another way to decipher where our heart is: look at where our mind wanders.  Our heart is likely close by.

We may not always be able to pursue all of our dreams, but it sure would be a shame only to have our heart in some other place in our mind instead of where we actually spend our lives.

Leap year lesson #141 is Look where your mind wanders to find your heart.

In his novel You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe wrote: “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

I understand the thought, but the point of this post is to say that we must revisit the times and places of our youth because they explain a lot about who we are today.

It was my 6th grade of school when my parents, sister and I moved to the farm shown in the picture above.  It was a dump at the time and most people recommended bulldozing it in order to build something new.  But my hard-working parents took their time over many years, put in more elbow grease than most people would, and gradually devoted their time, energy and resources to restoring it to a state that would make its pre-Civil War builders proud.

My parents still live here.  Coming to visit is bliss.  There is no place like it for my family and me.

It’s good to come back to this home again and again because it is filled mostly with good memories of loving people and happy times.  It is a place where solid parents now celebrating their 60th year of marriage instilled Christian values that will last a lifetime and beyond.  It is a place that I hope remains in the family for countless years to come.

Not everyone has the luxury of happy childhood memories, much less the opportunity decades later to still visit the place and most of the people that created those memories.  But even in the absence of that opportunity, taking time to reflect on our upbringing helps us understand why we love what we love, hate what we hate, fear what we fear, and hope what we hope.

So with apologies to Thomas Wolfe, leap year lesson #123 is You’d better go home again.

I heard a man speak tonight about some of the difficult situations he faced growing up in another country. He discussed his family’s Christian faith amidst overwhelming opposition. One impressive fact: of the 5,000 students in his high school, he was the only one who was Christian. Nearly everyone else was Hindu.

Teenage years are known for peer pressure. It is difficult enough to navigate through the relational and development landmines of youth without being the only one in 5,000 to profess your particular faith. I cannot imagine being in that situation, nor would I make any guarantees on what I might have done in that setting 40 years ago.

Today the gentleman is strong in his faith, and regularly reaches out to those still involved with the religion his family left behind for Christianity many years ago. He endured. He persevered. He survived the ostracism and opposition and is an admirable example of faith in action against all odds.

When I try to apply this man’s experience to a business setting, I can’t help but note how rare it is to find someone willing to be that lone voice in the midst of an entire corporate culture that disagrees. As businesses grow, it is typical for them to become set in their ways, less flexible, more complicated, less open to change and more willing to squelch the voices of those who dare to disagree. That is very dangerous.

Wisdom is not limited to those in certain roles or who hold lofty titles. Wisdom and insight can come from any level of the organization whenever that one lone voice dares to break the silence. He or she may not always be heard and definitely will not always get what they want, but one by one they can begin to make a difference and slowly be the change agents we need them to be.

If you are that lone voice in your company or organization, keep staying true to your convictions regardless of the outcomes. If you are aware of others attempting to be such a voice and you agree with their message, then join them in the cause.

Leap year lesson #105 is Speak your convictions regardless of opposition.