January Values in Action Challenge
American Values Investments is sponsoring a Values in Action challenge. The goal is to help Americans exercise their values for a brighter America. By preserving our values we can preserve our future.
In the first three months of 2020, we will be examining the importance of building community.
This first installment explores why vital communities are important to our democracy, and to our individual freedoms. The remaining 3 quarters will focus on the three key American values of caring, courage and integrity.
Americans are Less Connected
As we spend more of our leisure time pursuing individualized activities such as television and internet surfing, we are less engaged in institutions such as religious, civic, and community organizations. But these social connections are what creates mutual trust and unity within a community. High levels of intimacy within communities creates a social contract whereby we mutually hold each other to certain standards of behavior and propagate shared values.
Pew surveys suggest that many Americans lack meaningful relationships with their neighbors. Nearly 60% don’t even know the names of most or any of their neighbors. This trend has increased significantly over the past 30 years. Americans are also less likely to socialize with their neighbors. The most recent survey shows that only 20% of Americans regularly spend time with their neighbors and 33% have no interaction whatsoever.
Why is this a problem for democracy?
Gridlock and Incivility
Lack of meaningful relationships with others contributes to the decline of civility. When people are merely avatars on a screen, and not living image bearers of God, we dehumanize them. They are reduced to a one-dimensional caricature whose identity and value is tied to their opinions and beliefs. Therefore, when we encounter ideas and beliefs that differ with ours, we react uncivilly and attack the person’s character and humanity.
This makes it impossible to engage in meaningful discourse. We cannot interact with diverse thoughts, and reject out-of-hand anything that does not align with any pre-existing inclinations. Instead, those who disagree with our preconceived ideas are met with contempt for their value, dignity, and personhood.
This trend is troublesome for democracy. If we can no longer dialogue about important issues, how can we hope to solve the critical problems and pressing challenges we face?
In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam postulates that America lacks social capital. Social capital is the network of relationships and shared expectations that allow society to function effectively. The effects of this lack of social capital are thought to be a degradation of trust. People exhibit less trust because they have less familiarity with those they are asked to trust.
Lack of trust leads to less willingness to give and receive help from others. The resulting erosion in social safety nets causes too many Americans to rely on government programs in times of need. Many believe non-compulsory support from the private sector, like neighbors, is more effective since it usually comes with more sensitivity, concern, compassion … and no government expense or red tape!
Building community makes a difference.
We are designed to live in community. Is it possible that we would see the spiraling problems of depression, suicide, isolation, and risky behavior reduced if we had meaningful community with people who see us, know us, and accept us? We believe so.
Everyone needs meaningful community and fellowship. A good place to start, is knowing our neighbors. Let’s not just know their names, but their thoughts, dreams and hopes. Let’s learn what makes them laugh and what drives their passions. And let’s learn to accept their differences, quirks and nuances while we are at it. So, here’s our first challenge.
Take the 2020 Values in Action Challenge
As a patriotic American, are you up for the challenge? Will you be the change – and hope – agent that our nation needs? By putting your values in action in small ways, you can make a big difference. You will receive a monthly challenge in one of four areas: building community, caring, courage, and personal integrity.
Investors Advancing America’s Founding Values
Tell a Friend
Spread the word! Invite your friends to join the challenge and put their Values in Action.
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