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Freedom, Virtue, Security, Equality, Prudence

I am struck by how many people today choose to mock and insult those who hold a different point of view. I see it across the ideological and political spectrum. From Left to Right, the response of choice these days is to spew. In today’s Daily Journal, John Hood writes about the state of our discourse — or lack thereof — and makes a very interesting point about the differences in how we prioritize certain key values. (emphasis is mine)

The second insight is that we mostly share a common set of values but we don’t rank them the same way. Consider these five terms: freedom, virtue, security, equality, and prudence. You may well respond favorably to most or all of them. But depending on which one ranks highest on your priority list, you probably lean Republican (for the first two groups, libertarians and traditionalists), Democratic (for the second two groups, communitarians and progressives), or split your ticket.

If both facts and values separate us, are we doomed to an endless cycle of antagonism and frustration? No. If we better understand why other people might reasonably form a different conclusion about a political issue, we’ll be less likely to go nuclear on them. We may even crack the door open to a real conversation that could change their minds — or our own.

The ranking of these five values is an eye-opener for me. Is it for you? The next time I’m confronted with a view or opinion that I find hard to understand, I’m going to look at it in the context of these five values and how the person’s internal list may be different from mine. Fascinating.

Donna Martinez / VP of Marketing and Communications

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...

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