Red Rover, Red Rover…Whose Side Are You On Now?

Red Rover Red Rover, send Heather right over! 

Oh, how I loved that game when I was a kid.

The objective, of course, is to get everyone on your side. Regardless of which side you started on, you defended your current side feverishly with your teammates when the line was challenged. That was the great thing about that game – the sides were not nearly as important as the process.

But alas, life is rarely as easy as a game played during recess, and in today’s world, what side you’re on is significantly important.

A couple of years ago, a friend told me I should quit voicing my opinions about our nation’s political and social climate as I was only perpetuating the problem. He said I was “urging the divide.” I disagreed with my friend then and continue to hold firm today.

Lest you think I am talking about a mere political disagreement, or even more insulting, the resentment of “losing” an election, let me assure you, I am not. The chasm that exists today is not about a failed campaign. It is about stark philosophical differences in values, about who we are and who we want to be.

  • Right or wrong
  • Generous or greedy
  • Just or corrupt
  • Truth or lie
  • Kind or cruel

I try to stand on the acceptable side of that divide.

I haven’t always been this way – I used to dabble on the other side.

Who am I kidding…I often lived and breathed on the dark side. I’ve lied and cheated to get ahead or to put others behind. I’ve stole from strangers and I’ve hurt friends and family.  I’ve hid when I should have come forward, and I’ve laughed when I should have supported.

I’m not proud of these things. I’ve sought validation on the wrong side far too many times.  I’ve been wrong far too many times. Sadly, I’ve  wronged others far too many times.

If this means I lack the credibility to get your attention, so be it. I understand and accept the price of my transgressions.

But know this: I changed. It doesn’t matter when or why; what matters is I did.

Somewhere along the way, my mother’s gifts (our core values) instilled decades ago were finally opened.

  • Kindness
  • Truthfulness
  • Justice
  • Generosity
  • Decency

My core values became more attractive than things. My desire to live my core values became stronger than my desire for power. My core values began to form the woman who was previously undefined. And my core values became the assets worthy of my protection.

And protect them I will.

  • I will not tolerate discrimination and will strive to eliminate it in both work and play.
  • I will speak the truth and question or call-out those who attempt to deceive.
  • I will be the voice for others who have been silenced or are afraid to speak.
  • I will give when I can and encourage those with to share with those without.
  • I will think before I speak or act to ensure I am adding positivity or goodness rather than distracting from it.

Indeed, there is a divide, and I will do my best to ensure that those watching me clearly know what side I am on.

  • I choose the side with equal justice  where laws are administered with fairness and equity and where trade within and outside our borders will be open.
  • I choose the side where peace and unity are recognized as more powerful than conflict and divisiveness as they the foundations for collaboration and problem solving.
  • I choose the side where people are committed to supporting the common good.
  • I choose the side where options await and we are free to choose how we live, who we love, how we pray, etc.

The Preamble to our wonderful Constitution serves as a beautiful overlay to the values my mother instilled in me. Perhaps we could all reflect on the words of our forefathers and ask ourselves what it truly means to be an American.

I am proud to be my mother’s daughter.

I am also a proud American.

This clearly puts me on one side.

Red Rover Red Rover, can I call you over?


Some things to consider…

What are your core values?
If you don’t know or haven’t given it much thought, perhaps today is the day you do!

1. Identify/list the values you find important to you, personally.
You could use a values inventory (google it; there are a variety of assessments/tool kits free of charge) or you could grab a pencil and start writing. This list isn’t about “what should be” on the list based on some arbitrary rule or policy that has been forced or impressed upon you. Rather, it’s about “what is” based on what is important to you. Don’t limit yourselves to a certain number – just start writing and/or compiling a list. 

2. Personally validate the list.
This requires honesty. Do your actions and behaviors, on any given day, align with those values? Do your words, or silence on an issue, align with those values?

If and when they don’t, why?
If you find yourself offering exceptions or excuses (even reasonable ones), you’re probably eliminating the value from the “core” list. Don’t be ashamed of that – it doesn’t mean the value isn’t important; it simply means you are willing to compromise on it, so cull it from your list. 


3. Publicly validate the list.
This requires listening and more honesty. Does someone else (neighbor, colleague, friend, etc.) believe that your actions and behaviors, on any given day, align with those values? Does that person believe that your words, or silence on an issue, align with those values?

If and when they don’t, why?
Perhaps the person just hasn’t really absorbed the full context of any situation; strange answers might have reasonable explanations. However, as I stated earlier, if you find yourself offering excuses for why you act or behave in a certain way, it is probable that the value isn’t a “core” value, so cull it from your list.


4. Celebrate that you now have you “core values” identified to guide your words, actions and behaviors.
You could give them to your children and assure them your parenting will align with these values.
You could model them at your workplace and enable others to align their actions accordingly. 
You could rely upon them to help you choose a side because when the time comes, you’ll be asked to do so.

Good luck!