What We Will Not Compromise On
If I learned anything in my time as a policy staffer in Congress, it was this:
We must decide the values we will not compromise on. Otherwise, other people will do it for us.
And if the word "values" doesn't work for you, swap in priorities, principles, what matters to us.
The responsibility lies on each of our shoulders to determine what the unshakeable elements are that make up our moral compass. Compassion, creativity, social justice, being a good steward of the earth, listening, learning, whatever it might be.
Because what D.C. showed me - though you could learn this in many cities - was that if we do not make these determinations ourselves, there are plenty of powerful people who will use all kinds of powerful tools to guide us, push us, mold us into their priorities.
The tools could be invitations, flattery, quid pro quos, elevations of status or power - all very seductive pulls. And these pulls make following someone else's priorities an easy slope to slip down. So one can end up just going along.
But values aren't things we just go along with. They are things we fight for, stand up for, do not, will not, cannot compromise on.
Which makes it essential that at some point sooner rather than later, we pause for long enough to make an honest and true determination: these are the things I cannot compromise on.
So that when the powerful people with their powerful tools come knocking, we do not bend to their will, but stand up for ours.
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