My next project on my Dedicant’s Path will be writing about the pagan values. Before I started researching ‘assigned’ values, however, I wanted to take a moment to start thinking about what my values are.
I’m not trying to say that my values will necessarily be different from the pagan values ADF asks us to write about as part of our Dedicant Path requirements, but instead to better understand where I’m starting from. For the last two months or so, I’ve thought about this. I’ve thought while out running, while driving to and from work. I’ve thought about it when I was supposed to be working. In short, this has been a topic to which my mind always strays back to.
For all that thinking, I don’t know that I made a lot of progress. In the end, it was thinking about the values I want to instill in my children that helped me to form concrete ideas about this. So, that’s the way these will be phrased.
So, without any further ado, here are some of my goals for my children, not in any specific order:
- I want my children to be proactively happy. I know it’s an unfortunate phrasing, but it’s the best I can do. I want my children to be happy, but even more, I want them to understand that they can make their own happiness. Happiness won’t come from dating the right person or having the right car. . . I believe they (and I) won’t be happy until they identify what they want and work towards it themselves.
- I want my children to default to respect. This, I think, is a simpler idea. I’d like them to initially approach each person they meet with respect. Perhaps not deepest respect, as that’s something that’s earned. But also not without respect. I think this idea extends towards tolerance and towards a willingness to try to understand the narrative of another person.
- I want my children to value growth. This is a catch-all, and it’s not fair, but it’s the best I can do. This encompasses both the desire to push their bodies as well as their minds, and, hopefully, their spiritualities. When one of my children turns thirty (perish the thought! I’d be at least sixty!) and reflects on the last year, if he or she finds that they’re no further than when they turned twenty-nine, I want them to be dissatisfied. (We can talk about the apparent conflict with proactive happiness later.) Remember kids: what doesn’t make you stronger kills you!
- I want my children to value an inclusive identity. That’s so badly worded that even I don’t know what this means. Nonetheless, that’s my best attempt at the idea. Basically, I want them to have a strong sense of who they are, in terms of family and individual identity, but also in terms of national, spiritual, and academic terms. And, I want who they are not to be about who they aren’t. That is to say: “I am like whatever, and I celebrate the things I have in common with you, rather than fixating on what’s different about us.” In spite of my inability to talk paganism with my family, they are a big part of my identity, and I want my kids to share that.
- I want playful children. Another catch-all. Still, I believe that a sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with the idea that life is a game to be played, and that we shouldn’t over-celebrate our successes or over-mourn our setbacks. A sense of playfulness allows us to laugh at ourselves with the attempts at growth don’t go as planned, without assuming that a setback is synonymous with an impossibility.
Would you look at that: I seem to have summed up what little I understand of my own values in five bullet points. Perhaps that’s the value of being vague, perhaps it’s just a sign of how little I understand myself. Either way, that’s what months of thinking about it has brought me.
What do you think? Are these decent values? Have I forgotten something super-important? Am I overstating the value of something else?