Someone in my ward a few weeks ago shared the idea that we all have 4-5 “core values/beliefs” that we measure information, decisions, actions, etc. against and therefore shape the course of our lives, essentially. I looked a bit to see what the source of this idea was and to try and read a bit more on it, but didn’t readily find anything and it seems a bit overly simplistic and neat to accurately reflect lived experience. However, I think it is useful to think about what my core 5 would be, so here’s what I have come to (I’d love to hear what you think your core 5 are as well as if you think I accurately captured my own self in these 5).
- God is love. I think this is what governs most beliefs I have—I formulate it this way because it inherently includes the idea of a God existing, but for me, if God isn’t love then there’s no reason to care about His/Her/Their will. This may be somewhat influenced by my embrace of The Beatles’ music from a young age and an accompanying belief that “all you need is love.” I measure most theological ideas against this over-arching one and if I can’t see a God of Love in it, then I tend to reject it, or at the least set it to the side until sometime where I am able to reconcile it to my understanding of a loving God.
- Laughter makes life better. I’m not quite sure how to distill this value/belief into words, but this formulation is functional. I tend to think that few things are not worth poking fun at and that laughter can be used to great effect. Snark throughout Church (and especially during GenConf while I hang out with the twitterstake) allows me to feel the Spirit, when I otherwise could not. Laughter has enabled me to largely live devoid of stress—able to brush things off that others would internalize. Finding humor in pain and suffering is key for me to find meaning and to endure things that I would never be able to endure otherwise. As some have said, “I love to laugh…”
- Curiosity. The simple word “curiosity” serves better here than a more complete sentence would. I love to learn and research all sorts of miscellaneous (read: practically useless) information and feel that knowledge truly is power. I don’t think anything draws me more to people than curiosity. Curious (in both the possessing curiosity and the odd senses of the word) people are interesting people. Learning and continuing to better understand things that I have previously not understood motivates me in all sorts of ways. This was the beginning of my faith remodel—an ever-growing list of questions as a young missionary in the far off, mystical land of Lithuania. Understanding that not everyone shares this value explains why others could read through my questions and simply shrug them away, while I remained baffled that someone could read and NOT feel a burning desire to chat for hours about the possibilities, engaging in all sorts of speculation. My valuing of this may also explain my frustration with people that simply refuse to entertain possibilities different than their known experience or rigidly held beliefs—a frustration that I have whether I ideologically align with the individuals or not.
- Truth can be known. I believe that there exists some eternal Truth and that it is possible to come to know it. I also believe that most of our lives are spent holding to somewhat relative and changing truths that are pieces of the Truth. This Truth is ‘knowable,’ but by that I mean something beyond intellectual comprehension—it can be felt, understood, or otherwise sensed, even if it isn’t fully comprehended. I think pursuing this Truth is a worthwhile pursuit and that the more we understand, the better able to piece together the truths that surround us and see an ever-increasing amount of the Truth. Since I think that this Truth is eternal and in some sense infinite, I don’t know that finite, mortal beings can ever fully comprehend it, but still believe that striving to do so is worthwhile. This striving should by necessity include a lived component, as I don’t think that something can be completely and fully understood without being “lived” in some way. I don’t really know what this eternal Truth *is* or what it looks like, how all encompassing it is, but I think there is something infinite and eternal and somewhat unchanging out there. I access truth and portions of Truth through a variety of ways—interactions with the divine, religion, literature, film, art generally, people, nature, etc. Truth is everywhere and all truth can be brought into Truth. Or something like that.
- Every individual has divine potential. This underlies how I try to interact with others. I believe that everyone is good at their core and has divine and infinite potential. For me, this results in trying to respectfully engage with others in measured tones, since I think that people generally have understandable reasons (life experiences, core values, surroundings, miscellaneous circumstances, etc.) for holding even what strike me as the most horrific and atrocious ideas. I’m not always great at this, but I try to understand where people are coming from and meet them there to work towards a new understanding together. I hope to acknowledge the value that each and every individual can bring, even if there are some I don’t particularly care for personally. I hope to help others be true to the God or Goddess within them. This, maybe more than the others, pushes my political beliefs left of center, as I feel that I have a responsibility to assist others in achieving their full potential, and more liberal politics seem to me to strive more towards that (though that’s probably some of the other values combining with this one, as I know many conservatives would argue that their politics are the only way to truly allow people to reach their potential).
That strikes me as a fairly apt microcosm of my personal values and beliefs. Again, I don’t know how valid such a theory is, but I think the exercise is valuable, in that it forces you in some ways to cut away excesses and strip down your ideology to basic fundamental tenets. As I mentioned above, I’d love to hear what you consider your own personal 5 core beliefs/values AND how accurately you think I represented myself, with suggested deletions, additions, emendations, etc.