We mostly value the same things — just in a different order

We often think that people who don’t agree with us on issues have different values. And when someone doesn’t value the same things we do — things we hold sacred — it can seem like they are broken, distorted, corrupt in some fundamental way that’s hard to understand. I think that's rarely the case.

For example, I bet there are very few people in the world who don’t value freedom, fairness, and a healthy environment. However, one person, if forced to choose, may say the order for priority is:

  1. Freedom
  2. Fairness
  3. Environment

While another would stack rank thusly:

  1. Environment
  2. Fairness
  3. Freedom

And yet another like this:

  1. Fairness
  2. Environment
  3. Freedom

Ignore for a second that people also have different definitions of these things and what leads to their preservation. Even without that, these rather minor differences in value-ranking—due to upbringing, personal history, or culture —would likely lead (at least in today’s climate) to drastically different political stances, for it to seem like these three people don’t agree on anything. When in fact, they probably agree on a lot.

I don’t have any solution to that, but I do think it’s important to keep in mind: The person you vehemently disagree with probably values the same things you do — just in a different order.

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CEO of Medium, partner at Obvious Ventures, co-founder of Twitter, aspiring motivational speaker 🤸‍♂️

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Ev Williams

Ev Williams

CEO of Medium, partner at Obvious Ventures, co-founder of Twitter, aspiring motivational speaker 🤸‍♂️

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