My values can beat up your values

"It is important that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world." So says Tony Blair.

The London bombing was a horrible, tragic attack. But it was not an attack on Britain's particular values. It was a guerilla warfare strategy in the vaguest war of them all, the war on terror. Nobody likes to be bullied. And bombs, whether dropped from above in Iraq or left on the Tube in London, are tools of bullies. That's one of my values: that people shouldn't be bullied and that those who are have the right to self-defense.

I'm not an expert on this "values" thing, but my understanding, from those who study it, is that most of us have more similar values than we imagine. I'm curious what percent of the people we call terrorists just want us to leave them alone (get out of Iraq, get our bases out of their countries, etc.) and what percent actually want to impose "extremism" in our daily life. Can I get a show of hands?

For the extremists who want to get us all wearing burqas, I say send them to a remote region of a mountainous country with an extreme climate and let them fend for themselves. Oh wait, they're already in Afghanistan.

In organizational development groups, people often use a tool called a "values clarification exercise." This apparently, is supposed to get people to figure out what their own values are, realize what they have in common with others, and then think about how they act out their values in daily life. While I'd agree with those who say it's mostly navel gazing, there could be some good things that come out of doing this on an international scale. Then we could at least dispense with the rhetoric and get down to negotiating the real questions of how do we strategically advocate for security, equality, and freedom of speech and thought, which I'd wager are up there on many peoples' value lists around the world.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.