Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Core Values Are Not Convenient

We all have values, whether we have formally acknowledged them or not. You hope to make your decisions based on those values. Unfortunately, when you have not really decided what your core values are, it sometimes becomes difficult to make decisions based on those core values because you are not clear on what they are.

It becomes even more difficult when options appear to represent opposing values. That is when you really need to understand the priority of your core values.

A while back a representative from a university student group contacted me for advice. It was a Muslim student group. The question was whether the group should join a coalition of other student groups in support of an LGBT student group that had been discriminated against by the school.

I asked the representative if the group had joined coalitions before.

She answered yes.

I asked the representative why there was hesitation to join this coalition.

She responded that Islam is opposed to the LGBT lifestyle and did not want to appear to be condoning that lifestyle.

I asked her if she dissected the lifestyle, or agreed with all the positions, of groups in previous coalitions. 

She answered no.

I asked her if her group had ever joined a coalition with other groups for a particular issue despite disagreeing with one or more of the groups on other issues.

She answered yes.

I asked her whether her group would want other groups to decline joining a coalition with her group over an issue, such as discrimination, because the group disagreed with her group's lifestyle or positions on separate issues.

She said no.

I told her the group needed to ask themselves if they planned to dissect the lifestyles and positions of every group they considered joining in a coalition in the future or were they holding the LGBT group to a different standard.

I explained to her that this was a core value issue. Either her group opposed discrimination against anyone, or they didn't.

If they did not hold anti-discrimination against anyone as a core value, did they have the right to protest discrimination against themselves - and ask others to join them?

Because that is what a core value is. You either believe it, or you don't. A core value is not "sometimes." A core value does not "depend."

A core value is not negotiable.

If it is, it is not a core value but a convenience.

[Update: The group did join the coalition.]

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a thought-leader and keynote speaker; founder of The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

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