This phrase often grated on me, undoubtedly because I was allowing someone else to define it.
“What are these values?” I often wondered as a multi-racial woman growing up in the shadow of a ‘War on Terror’ I absolutely did not believe in. I began to associate the values with the lines of a once-popular song: “we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”
Were these values equivalent to arrogant confidence that avoided responsibility and did not seek to repair harm done? Did they have to do with treating others with contempt?
Yet, I now realize that this question remains unanswered; a great battle continues seeking definition – perhaps not of “American” Values, but of the values of the people living on this land. Ancient Indigenous prophesies speak of this battle – spiritual at its core, and we live in the age they saw in those times.
Countless people have struggled with blood, sweat and tears for life to be honored on this land as it was in their hearts. Many more now join these ranks as America undergoes a profound and welcome soul-searching about what kind of people we want to be, and how we want to live on the earth.
Old values of moneyed superiority and unchecked arrogance are being revealed for the emptiness at their base. Many turn away, seeking something that offers respect, health, meaning, compassion, empowerment. I’m grateful that President Trump has inspired this awakening and increased compassion and depth in so many, and am grateful to live in a time when the soul searching is seeking to address questions that have long been festering unhealed at the base of this place called America, a place of deep history, a place of spiritual battles continually at play.
If the question of values is at depth a spiritual one, it can really only answered through the days of our lives and what we contribute. Can’t be defined by a “I’m on the right side of history” and then looking at others with contempt. It’s harder than that, requires more effort and courage, asking that we embody the values we want to see – despite others’ negativity without creating that negative energy ourselves. There are many great examples of those who have undertaken this difficult and great journey: to strengthen life-affirming values out of deep respect for everybody.
The question of what American values are has not yet been answered, yet many many more have joined in the seeking. From the depths of the negative turmoil of these times is the seed of profound transformation.