“Big City values”, “New York values”, these are phrases we heard often throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign. They aren’t the first time, however, that these terms have been used in the negative sense. Normal thinking would define these “values” as liberal or left wing values. Pro-choice vs. pro-life (although I prefer to call it ANTI-CHOICE) and gay marriage have historically been key issues differentiating rural, small town values (as if all small towns are the same) from Big City and New York values. Now immigration is yet another issue deeply dividing and differentiating rural, small town America from Big City America. But let’s look deeper into this. Shall we? What makes Big City people SO DARN TOLERANT? How can they stand other people having the FREEDOM to get an abortion, the FREEDOM to marry someone of the same gender, and the FREEDOM for people from other countries to come here after exhaustive background checks? What VALUES make such tolerance possible? Big City values.
Values are shaped by a person’s surroundings. Everyone shapes their values in such a way as to make it easier to live and survive in relative peace. That’s only practical and common sense. Therefore Big City values are, by definition, values designed to make it possible for large numbers of people with diverse beliefs and backgrounds to peaceably co-exist while still maintaining their individual freedoms to live as they please.
These values and the surroundings that spawned them have given Big City people the unique quality of being unfazed by a broad range of human diversity in appearance and behavior. It allows us to live in relative harmony with one another. It is a beautiful beautiful quality about us and it should be celebrated. We are more difficult to shock or offend and that is a good thing. “Offense is taken, not given.”, said Ricky Gervais. Big City people know better than to take offense left and right for their own sanity. After all, going after people who offended us would be too exhausting. We would find ourselves doing it 24/7. It’s no different outside the cities except occasions for such perceived offenses are so few and far between by comparison that the time and energy to “prosecute” these “offenses” is much easier to come by. Not so in the big city.
Therefore Big City values, New York values, or whatever you choose to call them, are the values most conducive to a functional, harmonious, and prosperous democracy. Not to lord over other value systems, but rather to maintain the freedom of other value systems to exist in our country at all.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Sounds rather American even. Maybe we should have more Big City values all over the country. Just so long as we don’t force our values on others. That’s not what Big City values are about.