Equity, acceptance, discernment, integrity and growth are the values that guide and ground me in work and in life.
Fundamentally I believe that all human beings are equal in worth no matter what our background, abilities or station in life. This is an early and enduring value that has not shifted. Equal worth invokes an imperative to treat people fairly based on consideration of our differences, and the consequences of those differences. I strive to recognize and respect the dignity of all people equally and believe and seek to act in accordance with principles of social justice and anti-oppression in order to make this value real.
A disposition of acceptance towards all people based on equal worth is one of my strategies for practising equity. Acceptance of someone’s value as a human being is not the same as acceptance of their behaviour. Acceptance is also a strategy for practising compassion towards self and others (including what is commonly known as being non-judgemental) and for facing uncontrollable situations with equanimity.
Life requires us to practise judgement but judgement carries with it connotations of shame and rigidity that conflict with acceptance. Discernment to me evokes supple and subtle distinction. Discernment is a more refined and less emotionally fraught form of judgement. I value the process of distinguishing and clarifying my understanding of all experience while striving to be open and accepting to nuanced perspectives, including embracing multiple possible interpretations in situations of uncertainty.
To me, integrity is about acting with profound honesty, being consistent and coherent in my behaviour, and following through on commitments to myself and others. While honesty and moral consistency have always been almost intuitive to me, follow-through can be deeply challenging while living with a major mental illness. As such integrity is both a natural and aspirational value for me.
As someone who first fell in love with plants at seven years old it is only natural that growth has been a longstanding value. Growth in personal awareness, understanding and character have tremendously assisted me in living with serious mental illness. I also value and enjoy supporting the personal growth of others. Feedback is a tool that I value in enabling growth. Regular, formal feedback was part of the culture of one of the organizations I led, Serve, and it is a practice I continue to use.