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Progressive Values Stories: Gavin Newsom on Inclusivity and Noah's Ark

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We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.  Franklin D. Roosevelt
 

I interviewed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom about what he personally feels are the most important progressive values. He mentioned  several progressive values, such as, Interdependence, Stewardship, Empathy and Tolerance, but focused on Inclusivity as the most important.  He cautions progressives not to 'eat their young' and implode internally from all their differences. When asked to create a metaphor for inclusivity, he came up with the image of  Noah's Ark. 

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

 

 Progressive Values: Gavin Newsom on Inclusivity and Interdependence

 Gavin Newsom:  Well, I’m thinking inclusivity, the notion that we’re all in this together, and interdependence, that celebrate our differences, but unite around our common humanity.  And the opportunity to live their lives out loud and to be fully expressive is a core value, it’s a value that provides an opportunity to create wealth and opportunity and keeps us competitive, a spirit of pride and entrepreneurialism that transcends the movement, the willingness to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. 

The willingness to come together and try new things, and innovate and focus on a precautionary principle, that is decisions we make today have an impact tomorrow, and being thoughtful about making an investment not only in terms of solving today’s problems, but in the long term. 

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And I think these values are uniting values and transcending values from one generation to the next, and I think they are truly American values.  And they’re family values, as we’re talking today about family values – if you believe in family values, you need to value the family with a living wage and sick leave or family medical leave. 

You need to create jobs and opportunity, create opportunities for health care and get your kids into college, to be able to afford college, or work-training programs.  Be prepared for the new evolution in terms of green-collar jobs and realities of global interdependence, and the fact that we can’t put a wall up, and that we have to deal with the changing economy and climate, literally and figuratively in the global climate itself. 

So I think it’s a much more impactful and impassioned stewardship, and certainly one that is in stark contrast to a decade of conservatism that has been thrust upon us. 

Edwin:  What progressive values are personally most important to you?

Gavin Newsom:  Well, I think the most important is to be other-people oriented, that we all are in this together, and that decisions I make have an impact on the lives of other people.  And my personal decisions, my purchasing habits.  I mean, if I go out and am driving in a big gas-guzzler, I go out and buy a lot of water bottles and throw those water bottles in the waste stream, you know, it has an impact on what’s going on in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast.  It has an impact on what goes into our air, and what people are breathing. 

I think those are the things that enlighten me as being a progressive, is that the progressive movement focuses our attention on things, again that precautionary principle that it’s better to be safe than sorry in terms of the decision that we make. 

And I think that’s a growing consciousness within our community.  And I think you’ve seen that with globalization.  There’s that construct in the literal sense in terms of the geography of the world and the connection that we have in terms of what’s going on in the Middle East, that we’re breathing the same air that’s being produced in China.

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I think independence, the fundamental notion – I mean, Dr. King talked about that web of mutuality. That interesting, you know, I guess this is my Jesuit upbringing.  It comes from the Bible where there are many parts, but one body, where when one suffers, we all suffer.  I mean it’s a fundamental, a very human value.  It’s a spiritual one, it’s also a secular one and I think a progressive one nonetheless.

Edwin:  And how did you learn that?

Gavin:  My years of being raised by nuns, and abused by nuns – in the nicest way of the term – meaning getting discipline. 

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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. http://cultureofempathy.com 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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