Speak up for your values

My feeling that 'you don't speak for me' is particularly strong right now. A few days from our own election, and hearing about Australia's huge poll on same sex marriage, I need to clarify what I think and feel so that I can speak for myself.

While many of us, if put on the spot, would struggle to come up with our top five values, we certainly know when they are being violated.

Even in this indulgent age, we expect more of our politicians than self-interest. Fairness, transparency, protecting New Zealand's autonomy are coming through as important to us. For some, equality and caring for the vulnerable might complete a top five.

But if we expect these things from our leaders, do we demand them from ourselves? I was dismayed to hear that a recent poll gave New Zealanders' main concern as we prepare to vote was 'the economy'. Does this mean something more than 'higher wages so that I can buy more stuff'? I hope so.

Through the economy we could address child poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor, sustainable land use, care for the environment, support for creativity in science and the arts, affordable housing, wise education. But I'm afraid that some politicians, hearing that our top concern is the economy, will take it as a mandate for the politics of greed and continue to let the rich get richer while being manipulated by multinationals.

Our values are the underlying principles which guide our actions. They give coherence to our behaviour, help us make wise decisions and to explain ourselves to others.

'Drink and drive?' No, not just because I would be ashamed if I was caught but because my respect for life does not allow me to take the risk of harming anyone.

'Hiding my income from the IRD?' No, not only because it's illegal but because as a member of the community I want to contribute my fair share.

'Sorting my recycling even when I'm in a hurry?' Yes, because I care for the environment.

So what can you say?