On Values

So here we have the now-famous headline, the genesis of which gave rise to made up part of our lunchtime conversation today. Himself, it seems, knew that Mr. Bezos was mighty rich ($150 billion net worth according to Google), but hadn't heard about Mr. Pecker's alleged extortion/blackmail (you choose) attempt. So I recounted it for him to the best of my knowledge.

And we kind of sat there for a while, kind of stupefied.

At last, I said something like, "It's kind of hard, isn't it, to understand a person's values when they are very different from one's own?" Himself concurred. We wondered about the various aspects of the story:

  • Why would anyone want to have $150 billion?
  • Why would anyone take a nude selfie?
  • Why would anyone want to look at someone else's nude selfie?
  • Why would anyone worth $12 million (David Pecker, ibid.) want more money? 
  • Why would someone threaten to share someone else's penis picture unless certain demands were met?
  • Need I continue?
Somewhere in a psychology or sociology course I took long ago, I ran into the concept that when we like someone we tend to believe that said someone is like us, i.e., holds a similar value system. I suspect that Mr. Bezos and Mr. Pecker have more in common than either of them would be happy about. 

I had a kind of a values clash recently with someone I liked; therefore, I surmised that we held similar values, despite my being a classic bleeding-heart liberal and the other person's being a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Because I liked this person (a funny, generous, and articulate {qualities I find important] individual), I guess I thought that the political labels notwithstanding, we felt similarly about the important things, i.e., 
  • feeding the hungry
  • welcoming the stranger
  • separation of church and state
  • a woman's right to choose
  • equal rights for all
  • again, need I continue?
I was surprised, therefore, when this person wrote on Facebook for all the world to see, that s/he (I will not use "they" as a singular pronoun) found the values of Liberals "repulsive and repugnant." I'm still reeling at what feels like a very peculiar betrayal. Unsure how to handle this, for a couple of weeks I've just given the person a wide berth while I try to figure out a kind way to say something like, "You know, given the givens, I think you and I are better suited to being (calling on Facebook terminology) Acquaintances rather than Friends."

There's no connection between the Bezos/Pecker story and my/my Acquaintance's story. But somehow it feels like there is.


stitchinpenny said…
In the current environment many feel pushed to choosing sides. Nothing is black and white and so many situations are beyond my understanding. I think your friend was pushed by one of the many "buttons" that are currently being pushed in our society. Anytime we are told there are only the extreme views to choose from and no compromise we feel threatened. Labels are threatening. Each person's heart and actions should determine our reaction to them.
Janet O. said…
Your "why would anyone" questions could be asked of so many situations in the news these days. Propriety seems to be lost to far too many today.
Shasta Matova said…
It is easy to assume that people you know would have the same values you do. In this divided society, it seems like we are seeing more of the differences, and finding out so much about each other that we did not know, and perhaps did not want to know. All of these things about Bezos and Trump are so far out of my realm of possibility that it is mind boggling.
Quiltdivajulie said…
Hear! Hear! There is far too much emphasis put on labels these days. Kindness, decency, and politeness seem to have been pushed aside in favor of attitude, position, power, and more attitude. In the end, I believe kindness, decency, and politeness will not only survive but return to being valued over current behaviors. Best wishes as you find a way to deal with your "friend" ...
Barbara Anne said…
Amen, Nancy.

I share your puzzlement over the greed of some for money, power, or whatever at the cost to how many other people? Your beliefs in the importance in each person being kind, caring, welcoming to all, acting responsibly, being fair, polite, good humored, loving to our neighbors as to ourselves,echo my beliefs, too.

Mostly, my friends and I are like-minded on some issues, agree to disagree on other issues, and don't discuss still other issues as they don't matter in the context in which we're meeting each other.

May you find the way to handle your new knowledge about your friend.

Oh this is an interesting thought provoking post. I have all the answers...yes I do. I keep them to myself, except for discussing them with my grandson who is 23 and a rebel against all things government for sure. He is the only person in my personal vicinity that I have contact with that truly is knowledgeable on the issues. We don't agree on anything about the current political situation, but our discussions somehow NEVER come to hostile disagreement.

One one of the issues you present..I will never understand why people "need" billions of dollars and I admit that I have no respect for those that don't do something useful with it. I don't think for one minute that this whole Bezos/AMI thing is about money at all and I applaud Besoz for his fight back while I abhor what he did when looking for a new Amazon headquarters.

I admit that I have distanced myself from some friends and family that support much of what the current administration in Washington does. I am not a bleeding heart. But I have a WARM heart as opposed to those that I find are COLD hearted.
xx, Carol