Confessions of a Future Politician: Part 19

Moving into Real World Politics / Building Value Systems

Dave Volek
Feb 3 · 6 min read

Year 8, Week 3

I attended my monthly meeting at the Battenor Ecological Society. Well, these days, I maybe attend three or four times a year. Only when there is nothing better to do will I find energy to come to Jane Phail’s meetings. And I go to those meetings mostly for the networking.

For the past five years, this society has been advocating for a cleanup of an abandoned creosote plant in Riverbend. But five years of sending letters to politicians has not had any tangible result. Our president, Jane Phail, is calling for another round of letters. She will get her wish, but not much will change with these letters.

To be truthful, this organization has lost its flair for activism. But this particular cause was worthy. One of the town’s bicycle paths skirts this plant, so I see the mess more than I would like. It is an eyesore and smells bad. Maybe the Riverbend TDG can help.

I asked, “Would you like support from the Riverbend TDG?”

Jane asked, “Can you guys really do something for us?”

Over the years, I have mentioned the TDG occasionally at these meetings. Most knew I had a “high” position in this group. And I got a few people to join. This time, I got about 10 minutes of the group’s attention to explain the TDG to Jane and the rest of the attendees.

I concluded, “The creosote plant might be a project the TDG can help with.”

Jane said, “Why not?”

I said, “Well, it still needs approval from our executive committee. I’ll get back to you.”

Stacey and I were at the truck stop restaurant on another Saturday night.

“Stacey, you really left me with a lot to think about last time we were here. As a teenager, as a first year college student, and as a young office worker in Riverbend, I more or less let my value system develop without much thinking.”

“And that’s the way most value systems are developed. People take their cues of what is right or wrong, good or bad, from society around them. And if a certain subculture dominates the person’s life — or if the person really wants to belong to that subculture, the person will assume its values without much thinking.”

“But I clearly remember the day when I made a conscious decision to leave my subculture. Why could I not have made that decision eariler? I now see those few students who left my dorm also made a conccious decision. What was in me that made me stay so long?”

“That could be several things. It seems you had some of those values already in place, like you really wanted to have sex. So when sex was a major value in your dorm, it wasn’t that big of a jump for you to go from monagamy to promiscuity.”

“So those students who left had a wider gap in values between them and the dorm. My gap was more narrow. I just let that . . . cognitive disonance . . . fill in that gap.”

“That could be. And also the need to belong is very strong in most people. Often there’s more than one psycholohical force creating our values for us.”

“Looking back, I was scared of moving to another place. I just didn’t see an alternative. I had to fit in. . . . . . Those people who left the dorm probably had alternatives subcultures to turn to. I couldn’t see alternatives.”

“Maybe. Remember how you called the leavers as losers?”

“Yeah.”

“That was a signal to prove to yourself that you had the right set of values at the time. Those losers were indeed losers — in your mind. By calling them losers, you validated your own newly formed value system — even though you never thought much about that the value system.”

“So denigrating people who made a wiser choice than I actually reinforced my bad choices.”

“Probably. And And here’s another social validation force at work in your dorm situation.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“All those third- and fourth-year students in the dorm had a vested interest in converting you to their value system. If they could convince you to adopt their values, they were validated in their own value system. Had you stayed in the dorm, you too would’ve likely been trying convert the new students into promiscuity.”

“So what you’re saying is that we might subsciously recognize we have a poor value system. But rather than challenge it, we seek to convert other people to it. When we get converts, we feel good about ourselves.”

“That’s about right. Just one more possibility.”

“OK.”

“Some people use pleasure to mask internal psychological pain. A pleasure like sex helps them forget past trauma in their lives.”

“Like?”

“Say if someone was abondoned or abused as a child. When such people move into adulthood, they take on various kinds of addictions: alcohol, gambling, promiscuity, consumerism, entertainment. These help alleviate the internal pain they are suffering with.”

“I can’t say that would be me. I had a pretty good family life.”

“But you could say the same for other members of your dorm?”

“No, I really can’t recall anyone admitting to any childhood trauma.”

“Well, there were probably a few. And they had a vested interest in converting you to their value system. When they converted you, they felt better about themselves.”

“So, in a way, I was a product of their trauma?”

“You could say that.”

I had to think about that! How could I have let wounded people lead me around like that?

I said, “We are so much prisoners of our own psychology, aren’t we?”

“For sure. The paradox is that most of us believe that we have come to the “right” value system through independent and logical thinking.”

“So it seems anybody can fall for anything! How do we know when our values are sound?”

“When we challenge our current value system on a continual basis.”

“How do we do that?”

“My parents helped teach me about values. So I was always asking questions at a young age. Like: How do these values make me a better person? Or build a better community? If everyone had this value, would the world be a better or worse place? If no one had this value, would the world be a better of worse place? What is the money behind the values.”

“Money?”

“Sure. Haven’t you noticed that when our boss runs some advertising in the local paper, business picks up a little?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Well, he wouldn’t spend that advertising money if he didn’t have to. He watches his business numbers very closely. When his businesss seems to be breaking even, he advertises. More customers come in. It works for him. He’s trying to change the value system of a few people in Riverbend to come to his restaurant. Advertising is mostly about changing value systems.”

“But he is just running a business to make a living. I don’t see anything wrong with that. My accountant boss does the some thing.”

“But is our restaurant boss and your accountant boss setting up a culture for young people to have casual sexual hookups?”

“No.”

“But the managers of Ezzie’s and Spin City are. They want their places to be known as pick-up places. That brings in young people with those values. And those young people pay a cover charge and buy alcohol — which is money. Without the value system of casual sex, many nightclubs would not last long.”

“All those hours I had spent in the nightclubs really hadn’t done the world much good.”

“But the alcohol industry sure profited. And the night club owners and managers are making a good living. There’s often money behind many value systems.”

“And they don’t really care about health of their patrons, do they?”

“Nope. It’s a strange world that combines pleasure, pain, and peer pressure to earn profit.”

Like this story? Start at the beginning.

Go to Part 20.

Tiered Democratic Governance

This Medium publication educates readers who want to learn about an alternative democracy.

Tiered Democratic Governance

Tiered Democratic Governance has four salient features: (1) tiered, indirect elections, (2) voting based on good character and competence for governance, (3) a culture of consultation, and (4) an advisory board to help elected representatives reach their decisions.

Dave Volek

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Dave Volek is the inventor of “Tiered Democratic Governance”. Let’s get rid of all political parties! Visit http://www.tiereddemocraticgovernance.org/tdg.php

Tiered Democratic Governance

Tiered Democratic Governance has four salient features: (1) tiered, indirect elections, (2) voting based on good character and competence for governance, (3) a culture of consultation, and (4) an advisory board to help elected representatives reach their decisions.

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