Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Values

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 22, 2005

This is not a statement of values, but a statement about values, on which the Values Committee is agreed.

People ought to have the right, the capacity, and the courage to live their values, whatever they are.

We have the right to live without fear, to live without censure, to feel and be safe in our communities and our homes, to have and to hold to our values, in both a public and private space, together and as individuals, in an inclusive and sharing environment, and with respect for and celebration of our diversity.

But there is a difference in society, between the way people believe they ought to live, and the direction their society takes them.

We believe that our society belongs to all of us, without reservation, that each person is of inherent value to our society. To turn our back on some people, to leave them to live in a state of poverty, of sickness, of want and desperation, is in turn our back on the idea that values have any place in our society.

There is such a divide between what we believe, what we value, and how our leadership conducts public policy. We are desperately seeking a return to a society that is life-affirming, supportive of community, and respectful to the environment.

This requires a fundamental change in how we govern ourselves.

We believe that there ought to be a means of expressing, and living by, what we believe. We need public spaces, like arenas and community centres, libraries and coffee shops, parks and markets, open and accessible to all, where we may engage in common discourse.

Our press and media, television and radio, ought not to be a voice to speak to the people, but rather, the voice of the people, a marketplace of ideas in which we all share.

We need a responsive form of government, one that is accessible to all, one that respects the decisions we make as a community, and which gives us freedom each of us to live according to our own good, in our own way, as individuals.

We need a system of education, culture and media, open and accessible to all, that fosters and encourages the development and expression of our own capacities.

Our leaders, corporations and institutions have an obligation, a responsibility, not only to hear the voices of the people, but to be guided by them, as the expression of a free people governing ourselves.

Real leadership does not come from family background, from position or patronage, by appointment or preference or privilege. It comes from the heart, from knowing who we are and where we want to go, what we want to be. And it lives in all of us.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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