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Foundational Values
Nourishing Ideas > Foundational Values

We are persuaded that despite the modern trend to reduce community life to governance or market values, there remains in our society a solid and healthy core of vital and indestructible social values and virtues that are at the heart of community. They are also at the heart of what trust relationship there remains with respect to governments and business, and provide both with their sometimes fragile sense of legitimacy. We see them emerge vibrant and intact in times of crisis, when neighbours emerge from their social cocoons to engage, cooperate and assist each other. Looking at these universal values more closely can help us rethink community and citizenship in ways that will let the natural resilience of communities repair the living tissues of our communities.
        - Dominique Collin

Canadians have a rich and inspirational history of caring for each other both individually and collectively. This caring takes place formally and informally in countless ways, every minute of every day. Indeed, caring for each other is woven into the very fabric of our country and is fundamental to the nature of our democracy.

But what underlies this caring? If asked, most of us would say simply that we want to help, to "make a difference", to make our neighbourhood, our community, our country, our world "a better place". The values that underlie this commitment to each other are often unspoken and usually unacknowledged.

Nevertheless, there is a solid core of universal values at the heart of civic life that guide how we interact with each other in society. We call them universal because despite the varied forms they take, and regardless of how they evolve or are interpreted, they are present in all societies and provide important ground rules for how we live together. These values (or virtues, as the Greeks called them) underlie the institutions, customs and structures of our society. They shape our identity and provide cohesion and continuity. They provide the raison d'Ítre for our actions and the harness for our passions. They are the bedrock that provides us with direction to work for the common good. In short, they are the foundational values that bind us together as citizens and underlie what we call philia.

Jacques Dufresne describes values as our "moral oxygen". Like oxygen, we cannot exist without them, but we rarely give them conscious thought. And therein lies the danger. Taking the air we breathe for granted has led to a decline in its quality, to pollution, to increased rates of respiratory illness. The equivalent can happen to our values, and by extension, to our society. If we want to keep them vital and healthy, we cannot allow our values to be hidden, ignored or taken for granted. We need to hold them up to the light, reflect on them, discuss them and nourish them.

That's what this section of our website aims to do. On the following pages we examine some of the explicit and implicit values that we hold in common as caring citizens. We begin with a list of values we have identified as foundational and invite you to read more about each one by clicking on the individual links. We do not imagine that this list is complete, however, or that we have the last word on any of the topics! As always, we hope you will further the dialogue by contributing your own comments, ideas and links, as well as suggestions for additional guiding principles of caring citizenship.

And so, without further ado, let's explore these foundational values:

Date Author Subject Add Your Comment
Jan 21, 2021 by Accola Compassion the foundation of the church in our hearts.
Related Items
Read Universal Values: Governance, Market and Civil Society Values, by Dominique Collin, for a discussion of universal values and the Philia approach.

Read The Earth Charter for a synthesis of values, principles and aspirations shared by growing numbers of people in all regions of the world.
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