Friday, September 29, 2006

Uncommon values

women trying on tie-dyed fashions at Byron market

This morning I went to see a Life Coach. On the scale of North Coast things to do, this is almost mainstream.

I met Gillian the life coach though Toastmasters, one of my daggier hobbies. Toastmasters is embarrassing and quite tedious, but incredibly useful. I'm a good public speaker now, and reasonably fearless. Gillian was a librarian in a past life. Now she's travelling the country and to New Zealand running workshops in being true to yourself and seizing your authentic power. I thought I could use a little authentic power.

It seems fairly certain we are moving to Brisbane now. Funny - it was my idea as I was feeling stifled and directionless here on the North Coast. Lovergirl didn't want to move and had everything here humming along fine. But Lovergirl is the one who has worked out exactly what she wants to do with her time in the River City. The plan at the moment is to stay there for two years, during which time Lovergirl will get her clinical masters and work part time as a lecturer at the therapeutic school she trained at. She's got it all sorted and is ready to go, is going up to Brisbane next Monday for a meeting with her school to sort out her lecturing timetable for next year. Me, I'm still waffling around, going, 'What do I want to do with my life?' All I can think is that I don't want to do any more mental health work. (Why is it called mental health when it is solely concerned with mental illness?). And now that I'm no longer assuming that I will eventually get pregnant, I need to find something that's important to me to do.

Hence the life coach.

My homework is to come up with a list of ten priorities, "Or as many as you want!" said Gillian. But first I have to list my values. Apparently once I've articulated my values, my priorities will become much clearer.

Have you noticed how values are being appropriated by the right, taken to mean conservative values? When Gillian started talking about values, I had a reaction. It's the same thing that's happened with the Australian flag.
When we were kids, Dad, a proud immigrant, had a flagpole and would fly the flag on important occasions - Queen's Birthday, Australia Day, Labour Day and so on. Now, whenever I see the Australian flag flying outside someone's house, I assume it's a house of homophobic Muslim-bashing duck-shooting rednecks.

Now values are the new battleground. And it seems that the left just shies away, admitting by default that 'values' are synonymous with heterosexuality, Christianity and working hard to get yourself ahead.

So I've been pondering my own values. A bit challenging, as a conscious exercise. This is what I've come up with so far:

- Connections to family and friends are very important to me. I value loyalty and interdependence. I like to think we live in villages or communities, not discrete little family, couple or single units. I like doing things for my tribe and knowing others will be there for me in the same way.

- It's important to try to create a better world, not just accept things as they are

- It's important to be a good person... now I'm trying to think what a 'good person' is. A good person is...umm...I suppose a good person does all the other things on this list.

- It's important to live according to your beliefs & values, not just have them for show, such as using public transport instead of just bemoaning carbon emissions.

- It's important to think about things and not just blindly accept what others say.

- It's important to consider the whole planet my actions - other people in my community, animals, third world countries, how the way I'm living impacts on those

- It's important to keep learning

A value I'd like to have more of is around having fun. I don't think it's very important to have fun, in fact I think there's something slightly scandalous about it. And value I'd like to have less of is the belief that 'It's important to help people'. I think it's patronising. Jonathon and I were having a discussion, and he was talking about the idea of working with people not because you want to 'help' them, but because 'my liberation is tied up with yours.' I like that idea.

What values are important to you? I'd really like to know. Besides, it will help me with my homework...


Anonymous said...

I think it's important to have integrity - that is, that what I do is a reflection of what I believe in.

Susoz said...

I haven't really thought this through, but I wonder if conservatives like thw word 'values' and lefties prefer the term "ethics' and the difference between those two concepts is an ideological difference between left and right.

Mikhela said...
Values: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable [Middle English, from Old French, from feminine past participle of valoir, to be strong, be worth, from Latin valre. See wal- in Indo-European Roots.]

1. (used with a singular or plural verb) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.
2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.
3. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.
4. (usually used with a singular verb) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

Mikhela said...

intersting thought - is there a reason why one would be considered 'left' and one 'right' or is that a bit of linguistic sophistry?

(short unthought out entry as at work, oops)

Katya said...

Was that a typo when you said you DON'T think it's very important to have fun? I think fun is crucial to a positive sense of wellbeing. Life can't all be doom and gloom and feeling guilty about how much we might be stuffing up our lives / society / the planet. If you're feeling miserable, go out anfd have a bit of fun, that'll cheer you up!

mikhela said...

Yay Katya's back!

No, not a typo - It's that strict religious upbringing biting me on the bum again - there's something bad about putting my interests first. So maybe the value is that I believe I ought to feel entitled to have fun...that's not to say I don't have fun but I wouldn't list it as a central organising value in my life