I do not live on campus so I take a bus to get there and back after my classes. This morning an old lady and her granddaughter tried to get onto the bus, which is exclusively for students at my university, saying that they needed to get there in order to register for the academic year. The driver was now faced with the dilemma of deciding whether he should make sure the registered students get preference therefore climb first and get to class on time or whether he should help these two as they really need it.
This reminded me of a lesson I learnt about values while I was on a workshop in the bush last week. The one side of the argument is that this driver should only transport registered students as that is his job and thus he would be treating his job and the contract that he signed with integrity. The other flip of the coin is that he could help the lady and her granddaughter as he could value helping each other and the so-called spirit of Ubuntu.
In both instances he would not be wrong. His decision would be based upon his values as an individual. This is a lesson we seldom look at. At most, we take the easy route of judging each other’s decisions, especially when there is a clash between values. It is easy to assume that the next person’s reality is the same as mine and that what I hold dear is also what they hold dear. Maybe in an ideal world it would be that way. But since this isn’t an ideal world we need to come to terms with the fact that our values are not facts. My values are not always your values and that doesn’t make any of us right or wrong.
It is a hard lesson to remember. Personally, it is much easier for me to give someone the side-eye when what they do does not go along with my values, but it sure would spare me some emotional wastage to remember that the next person does not always hold the same values that I do.