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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Values and Marco Rubio

"In the 21st Century, it's become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church, instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music and in popular culture." Marco Rubio.

Here is the "values gap" as expressed by a US presidential candidate. He thinks home/church values are true and popular culture values are false. But within home, church, and culture are conflicts in values. Consider three kinds of values that cut across home, church, and culture.

1. Conservative and liberal values. In biological life there is a continuing tension between how much to open up to try out new approaches and take in new information and how much to close down to build boundaries and keep out toxicities. A health cell does this; so does an organism, and even a community. There is a self regulating process that is part of a healthy life.

2. Immature to mature values. In development, persons and societies move from immature stages of uncritical beliefs, fear of the unknown, and dislike of others to a more mature stage of questioning one's beliefs, curiosity that risks the unknown, to universal empathy. There is a growth process in which we leave the fears of loss and the clinging to childish ideas behind.

3. Absolute vs. relational values. (Here is where I have been doing a lot of work in the transition from modernity to the transmodern.)  Here it is not just a matter of growing up and getting a better education as in #2. It's a matter of willful ignorance. It is a matter of the difference between dogma and transcendence. Or the difference between belief and faith. 

Home, church, and culture can be conservative or liberal in relation to different places and times. We all need be as prudent as we can in ranging between behaviors that are more attune with past experience and those that are more creative of future experience.

But we all have to grow up and transform what we learned as a child, and especially our dislikes and fears of other ways of living, associating, and thinking, to become more mature in our tastes and in our judgments of others and of ourselves.

But transcendence (or spirituality) is letting go the illusions of absolutes in things, doctrines, ideas. It realizes the relationally of all of us and of all things in the universe, and in solidarity with others acts to become relational beings in a relational world. 

I do not deny the problems of popular culture. When I watched the first half of the Super Bowl (that's all I could take), I also experienced a values gap. But a bit different from what Rubio is talking about. Most of the values that were being pushed there, wealth, dominance, consumption, nationalism, and the material measures of success, are also being pushed in home and church. 

I think Mr. Rubio's values are abhorrent whether he got them from his home, his church, or his American culture. I don't quibble with his conservatism. I do criticize his immaturity. But most of all I condemn his idolatry, his promotion of fear, his willful ignorance of other ways to live, to believe, to be civil, and to be American. I condemn his values of intolerance and exclusion of all who are different--and, indeed, that is all of us.

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