Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Values - Christian? Secular?

The Green Party promotes "10 Key Values". Two things strike me. First, they're popular. They come close to representing an American consensus on many points. They would probably poll pretty well. (As an example, in 2000, in trial heats between single pairs of candidates, in what's called "Condorcet polling", the Green candidate, Ralph Nader, beat each of the other candidates, Bush, Gore, and Buchanan.)

Second, they're not "religious", but they appear to me to be generally consistent with the "true religion" (or true worship) which is described and prescribed in the Epistle of James, and with the equivalent charitable love of Paul's epistles.

They raise the issue of whose values are more Biblically defensible -- the Christian Right's or those of at least some of the secular left's?

An amusing question. Think about it.

Here are the more or less definitive definitions from the national Green Party site. Some states have variant versions. I rather like the California version which is in the form of "how can we..." questions rather than statements of what we should or must do. That way, the CA version raises some interesting specific questions.

Rather than explain and comment, I'll leave it to you to ponder, comment, and ask questions.

Ten Key Values of the Green Party
Originally ratified at the Green Party Convention in Denver, CO, June 2000.

Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

The California questions:
-- How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that affect our lives?
-- How can we ensure that representatives will be fully accountable to the people who elected them?
-- How can we develop planning mechanisms that would allow citizens to develop and implement their own preferences for policies and spending priorities?
-- How can we encourage and assist the "mediating institutions"--family, neighborhood organization, church group, voluntary association, ethnic club--to recover some of the functions now performed by the government?
-- How can we relearn the best insights from American traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action and community responsibility?

All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

The California questions:
-- How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity?
-- How can we encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote their own health?
-- How can we have a community controlled education system that effectively teaches our children academic skills, ecological wisdom, social responsibility and personal growth?
-- How can we resolve personal and intergroup conflicts without just turning them over to lawyers and judges?
-- How can we take responsibility for reducing the crime rate in our neighborhoods?
-- How can we encourage such values as simplicity and moderation?

Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems. [A current statement of this would also emphasize climate change as an issue.]

The California questions:
-- How can we operate human societies with the understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it?
-- How can we live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying our technological knowledge to the challenge of an energy efficient economy?
-- How can we build a better relationship between cities and countryside?
-- How can we guarantee the rights of non-human species?
-- How can we promote sustainable agriculture and respect for self-regulating natural systems?
-- How can we further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life?

It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

The California questions:
-- How can we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world?
-- How can we eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth without being naive about the intentions of other governments?
-- How can we most constructively use nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and in the process reduce the atmosphere of polarization and selfishness that is itself a source of violence?

Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

The California questions:
-- How can we reduce [ie: devolve] power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities and regions?
-- How can we encourage the flourishing of regionally-based culture, rather than a dominant mono-culture?
-- How can we have a decentralized, democratic society with our political, economic and social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical?
-- How can we redesign our institutions so that fewer decisions and less regulation over money are granted as one moves from the community to the national level?
-- How can we reconcile the need for community and regional self-determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation in certain matters?

We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a “living wage” which reflects the real value of a person’s work.

Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers’ rights; broad citizen participation in planning; and enhancement of our “quality of life.” We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that distribute resources and control to more people through democratic participation.

The California questions:
-- How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy?
-- How can we develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable, and responsive to communities?
-- How can we establish some form of basic economic security, open to all?
-- How can we move beyond the narrow "job ethic" to new definitions of "work," jobs" and "income" that reflect the changing economy?
-- How can we restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.?
-- How can we restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation?

7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY [Some state parties call this "Gender Equity and Cooperation"]
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

The California questions:
-- How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting?
-- How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group?
-- How can we promote the building of respectful, positive and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions?
-- How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches?
-- How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as the end (the process as much as the product of our efforts)?
-- How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities?

We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.

We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.

The California questions:
-- How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility toward all beings?
-- How can we reclaim our country's finest shared ideals: the dignity of the individual, democratic participation, and liberty and justice for all?

We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

The California questions:
-- How can we be of genuine assistance to the grassroots groups in the Third World? What can we learn from such groups?
-- How can we help other countries make the transition to self-sufficiency in food and other basic necessities?
-- How can we cut our defense budget while maintaining an adequate defense?
-- How can we promote these ten Green values in the reshaping of our global order?
-- How can we reshape the world order without creating just another enormous nation-state?

Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.

The California questions:
-- How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long range future, and not just in terms of their short range selfish interest?
-- How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them?
-- How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful, and use these judgements to shape our society?
-- How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility?
-- How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking?

Ten Key Values from other state and local Greens.
There is no authoritative version of the Ten Key Values of the Greens. The Ten (sometimes 11) Key Values are guiding principles that are adapted and defined to fit each state and local chapter. (http://www.greens.org/values/)

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