Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez issued a statement on the Fourth of July. A small part of this statement, captured in a headline by USA Today, stated, "Everywhere we look, our most fundamental values are under attack."

Just a week before, Bill Gates, hardly an icon of conservatism, speaking at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., said, “By almost any metric, the world is a far better place today – less violent deaths, less disease, more education – than ever in its history. It doesn’t mean we can feel complacent about that remaining burden.”

Gates went on to say that 12 million children under 5 years old died in 1990 and that figure is now less than 5 million per year. He also said the world is a safer place than it was 50 years ago.

The question I come to in all of this is this: What are our fundamental values?

Being safe from violent acts is certainly a value we can all embrace (at least I hope so). Safe air to breath, clean water to drink and a safe way to dispose of our wastes would be on my list.

Having adequate daily caloric intake and a dry place to sleep of moderate temperature are also values we can all embrace.

Freedom to worship (or not worship) in the way we see fit is a fundamental value.

Beyond these, it seems like we get into first world worries: envy and greed. (You have a nicer place to live than I do. I have a better phone than you do, for example.) And we leap beyond these fundamental values.

For instance, I am not responsible if words I use or something I say offends you, because it is unreasonable to expect me to understand how you think and what might offend you.

I may be criticized for being impolite, but I can’t be expected to know your “triggers.” By the way, this applies to you as equally as it does to me.

I am not responsible for nor should I be condemned for not agreeing with your values that lie beyond the fundamental values. Likewise, I should not expect any different treatment from you.

There is no excuse for violence unless it is violence exerted by one party to thwart a larger violence being perpetrated by another party.

It is your right to disagree with me, be mad at me or feel an ill will toward me if I disagree with your views that are beyond the fundamental values. However, if you choose to express your displeasure with physical violence, it is my right to defend myself by whatever means necessary.

As a Christian, that may mean I choose to follow the teachings of the Bible and turn the other cheek, even up to the point that you kill me.

So, when we talk about values, let’s be clear. There are fundamental values and then there is everything else. Also, be clear that I will do everything within my means to protect your fundamental values. Beyond that, you are on your own.

I suspect Mr. Perez and I strongly disagree on what are defined as “fundamental values.”

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.