Sunday, June 1, 2014

Prioritizing Values

Our minds LOVE lists. And they make for easy-to-write copy, so we see tons of them. "Top Seven Continents!" "Thirteen hair care products you can't live without!"

The words "In no particular order" show up in these sometimes--"Twenty restaurants you should try" instead of "What's the best restaurant in Bobtown?"

Some days this really drives me nuts. I see a certain avoidance of conflict and well, some laziness.

Last week I went to the grocery store in search of a specific flavor of ice cream. The store did not have my flavor, but I still wanted ice cream. I proceeded to spend fifteen minutes* carefully considering Every Single Flavor. Hmmm.  I like mint chocolate chip. I like raspberry. I like rocky road. I like coffee toffee crunch... but I am only going to take home ONE flavor of ice cream. How do I make up my mind?

We all might agree that peace and intellectual stimulation and hope and equality and service and tiny muffins are all good things. But chances are some of us will put peace ahead of service, and others will put mufffins ahead of peace. 

I feel, sometimes, like we are afraid to get too personal with people, and to ask questions we think we might not like the answers to.  We put things very vaguely and make it easy for people to nod absentmindedly at a dozen things, rather than asking them to choose from the assortment. And we certainly wouldn't want to judge someone on their least, not out loud or emotively. 

But if we only have the capacity to address two things on one of these lists, which two do we choose? It gets complicated (and loud) quickly. What is the discernment process here? 

How do we create a safe space and begin a conversation where people can truly lay their cards on the table and consider an order to them? Can we assume good intentions when one's deeply-held values are in conflict with another's?  

Sometimes we can find win-win solutions, and sometimes we need to make tough choices. How do we make certain that everyone feels heard, and valued, yet clearly move forward on SOMETHING?

*Ok, I wasn't feeling well and having a hard time figuring out what to do after Plan A fell through. Usually the process goes somewhat more smoothly.

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