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Progressive Values Stories: John on Equality

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 I interviewed John at his house in Oakland, California.   John says progressives are  looking for equality, for fairness and for justice and that  these are the same values that most Americans have. He went to Berkeley schools in the 60’s and 70’s, and was excited about the overall cultural search at that time of really trying to understand what equality might be.


"You learn about equality in history and civics, but you find out life is not really like that."
Arthur Ashe


"If we are not striving for equality, in heaven's name for what are we living?"
John Hope



 Progressive Values Stories: John on Equality

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John: We’re looking for equality, for fairness and for justice.  We’re looking for accountability and for a system of government that is not just a power structure that serves the powerful but that fulfills the stated intentions of the Constitution and the democracy that we are all brought up to believe in in school as opposed to what our government has unfortunately become. 

It’s obvious there are so many reasons why it’s become what it’s become, and so many challenges in trying to change it back to what we progressives, with our ideals, would like it to be.  As I’ve had conversations in the other room, a lot of ideals of what we progressives have are really parallel to what a lot of people who call themselves conservatives have.  They might have the same values under slightly different names, a few dividing issues like gay marriage or abortion, but we’re being deceived into thinking that our values are really at odds with each other, when, in fact, they’re more similar than we realize.

So, I think that the majority of American people are actually a sleeping giant whose common values can   at some point get mobilized and maybe we can have the government we always thought we should have again.

Edwin:  What are your personal values in your own life?

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Answer:  I believe in having a humane life.  I’m not extremely materialistic. In terms of the society I want to live in, I’m very uncomfortable when I see a lot of social stratification, injustice, and as someone who happens to have been born a white male, I’m very aware of my privilege, and I think I’m aware of the fact it’s a luck of birth that I was born with that.  I don’t feel that should entitle me to anything extra.  I feel therefore, I have a unique opportunity to try and promote all the privileges I have for everyone, if possible.

Edwin:  Would you say that’s equality?

Answer:  Yeah, I strive for equality, absolutely.  Equality of opportunity in a much more real sense than I think is meant by maybe some Republicans.  Equality of opportunity can start to sound like a very individual thing or philosophy, “where everyone is responsible for pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, and those who don’t, well, they had the same opportunity, and somehow they didn’t make it”, when there are so many factors that go into what opportunity really is, that a few simple laws don’t really fix it.  We all have to take it on as our own personal responsibility.

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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, (more...)

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