Part I: Packing values into value

Eastern Indians and settlers shared common values until greed intervened

Eastern Indians and settlers shared common values until greed intervened

Our local grocery store has launched a strategy to link values with value.

Usually when you hear a store talk about value the idea is that you get your dollar’s worth.

In this case, the grocery store is an upscale market that appeals to folks who can afford organic vegetables, free-range animal products, homemade pastries and fair trade coffee.

The store has a tea and coffee bar where you can relax, check your shopping list and have a snack.

That’s where I spied the promotional flyer on values.

In a brilliant move, our store champions its mantra: “Where value is inseparable from values.”

Let’s break that down.

Value is from the French valoir—to have worth. Values come from the same root word and refer to guiding principles or beliefs.

Question: is value inseparable from values?

In one sense, the answer is no. Each word shares a common root, springing from the same meaning.

We can come to consensus that value assigned to an object means you get your money’s worth.

But when we think of an expression like family values, clearly we disagree over what values constitute.

I checked values on the Tea Party website and discovered a story under the headline Family Values.

The greatest threat to values, according to the Tea Party, is “actually posed by Americans.”

Americans with views different from the Tea Party, “open the border to bring in every rapist, child molester, cop-killer, and drug-pusher who appreciates such a vast new workplace.”

You’ll find a different view on family values expressed by Sioux elder Floyd Looks for Buffalo Hand in a recent article in Indian Country Today Media Network.

He described Lakota values as:

Praying, respect, compassion, honesty and truth, generosity, humility and wisdom.

Getting back to the grocery store’s literature, the point is to weave together values with value.

And while we might agree on the meaning of value (the worth of an object) we disagree about what constitutes values (guiding principles).

Stay tuned for more thoughts tomorrow.

10 December 2014



About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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2 Responses to Part I: Packing values into value

  1. Thanks, Cynthia, When I hear the rantings of the Tea Party I think back to that first Tea Party in Boston, and just how racist it was. Of course, the event was about taxes, which the Tea Partiers did not want to pay. I haven’t heard much from them about the common good, and the way taxes support that, but then they don’t seem to care much about the common good.No wonder they don’t like Indigenous people!


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