One of the most overused terms in the English language, “a value” refers to “A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable…” (American Heritage Dictionary).

We demonstrate our values by the way we behave, both in private (the best test of our values) and in public.

Michael J. Fox, the well-known actor who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, recently made a campaign commercial supporting the candidacy of a Missouri Democratic candidate for the US Senate, Claire McCaskill. McCaskill’s opponent, Senator Jim Talent, opposes embryonic stem research. Stem cell research (embryonic or otherwise) may hold the key to curing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and it’s obvious why Fox appears in political ads supporting candidates, from any party, who support funding for stem cell research. While I won’t dismiss the moral issues surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, I believe that a civil debate on the issue can be had.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh criticized Fox’s ad for McCaskill, not for its content or merit, but rather he accused Fox if faking his shaking in the ad (shaking being a symptom of Parkinson’s). Limbaugh has not as of yet made similar complaints about Fox’s ads for Republicans…

This evening on the CBS Evening News, Fox was interviewed by Katie Couric who of course had to tackle the comments made by Limbaugh. While Limbaugh made comments about Fox that were rude and medically false, Fox’s response during his interview this evening proved how different the two men are.

Rather than mentioning Rush Limbaugh’s well publicized manifold sins and wickednesses, which might make one think twice about taking advice from such a person, Fox kept on point about his disease, and his desire to see a cure developed. It wasn’t his willingness to be on camera while having the shakes that impressed me, it was how he handled the criticism against him with grace and dignity, and redirected it to draw attention to the suffering of others. In other words, he demonstrated what he values; what does Rush Limbaugh value, I wonder?

I’m not writing this to bash Rush-indeed I’ve defended him from others online who resort to his tactics when criticizing him, even though I do not care for his ideology-but rather as a demonstration of how every day we exhibit what is important to us, what we value.

For example, on my way home from work this afternoon, no less than six cars blocked the intersection preventing myself and the 10 cars behind me from moving when the light turned green. What were the people blocking the intersection doing? Some were on their phones, some were looking around like they were lost, and others were engrossed in conversation with others in their car. In short, they all valued self over others, personal satisfaction over doing the right thing, and “being in a hurry” over driving conscientiously.

Conversely, when I ordered a cup of coffee this morning at Starbuck’s, since the coffee was still brewing the kind man behind the counter said he’d give me my order for free. I returned at lunch to purchase a sandwich. He values his customers and wants them to have a convenient, enjoyable experience; I value people who are considerate especially when I least expect it (I’d have had no complaints about waiting two minutes for my coffee).

I fear that exhibition of the kind of values demonstrated in my traffic story are more the norm than those showed by the Starbuck’s employee.

I am by no means a model of good values; but I’m trying to be, as Gandhi famously said “the change [I] wish to see in the world.”

Being civil, courteous, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, helpful, honest, etc. is not always easy but let’s resolve to make an effort to demonstrate good values at least one opportunity per day.


Eternal Spirit, who gives wisdom, show us how much of what we pray for in the world about us is waiting to be found within ourselves.

--A. Powell Davies

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