Last Sunday’s community meeting opened my eyes to several really important ideas. The most significant of these ideas is the idea of difference. To my knowledge, no two Honors students present at the meeting had the same five values ranked at the top, or the same five values ranked at the end. Furthermore, when there were similarities in values between Honors students, each person had personal reasons and experiences that shaped their decision to rank that particular value in the way that they did. This is not a bad thing. One thing I have learned from the first core course is that one singular, close-minded perspective will not solve any substantive societal problem. Understanding and respecting the values of others, while being aware and mindful of one’s own values is the best route to attaining success in many realms of life.

My top 5 values on Sunday were equality, justice, competence, compassion, and freedom. I have selected these values as both a collective top 5, and individually, which stems from my life experiences to date with these values. These 5 values are a part of my identity and a part of the identity that I wish to possess for the rest of my life. It is imperative for me to understand that I need to respect all opinions as opinions informed by the life experiences of others. With this being said, there are opinions that I fundamentally disagree with because of the values listed above; it is still my obligation to respect where someone is coming from before dismissing those opinions. In light of this, I will balance this obligation by sticking true to my values and courageously defending what I believe in. Others must understand that my personal circumstances and background do not dictate the validity of my opinion. When problem solving and collaborating with others, respecting differing values is truly the only way to reach true consensus and compromise on a given issue.

I refuse to allow my most fundamental values to take a back seat; I should not intentionally place others in situations where there values must be betrayed to achieve a desired end. Reaching this mutual understanding will build bridges for dialogue and integrative problem solving across racial, socioeconomic, and national boundaries.