This week I read a fascinating blog published by the Common Cause Foundation entitled ‘A Crisis of Values’. The blog highlights a really interesting outcome from research the Foundation conducted in the UK and US. The research found that a large majority of people hold values that are generally concerned with the well being of others (self – transcendence values) to be more important than values that are based on the pursuit of personal status and success (self-enhancement values). “How heartening” I thought, people, on the whole, are more concerned with others than their own status and success.
However, the next outcome highlighted by the research showed that whilst the majority of people held the self – transcendence to be more important than self – enhancement they believed that other people felt that self – transcendence values to be less important than self – enhancement. Here we have a significant gap in perception that is often enhanced by the language and coverage of media. A culture is perpetuated that emphasises the danger to our security (personal and national) of the ‘other’. How do we begin to ‘bridge’ this ‘perception gap’? Well, in conversation yesterday someone told me that “we need to begin to ‘big’ each other up’.
I reflected on this throughout the afternoon and I agree. If I believe that I am concerned with the well being of others above my own status and success, why can’t this be true of others? So, here’s a choice we have to make. Do we choose to believe the best of people in our communities? Do we choose to believe that the assets and resources that can make our communities more vibrant are already there, in its residents?
Next time we read in the press or watch on the news that our communities are ‘going down the pan’ or our country is under constant ‘threat’ let us allow ourselves a small smile and acknowledge that we know different. Let us ‘big up’ our communities and neighbours. Let us not just ‘mind the gap’ lets us begin to bridge the gap.