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Moats: Values

'A lot of people came to Vermont ... believing in the idea of community and compassion and the need to be stewards of the earth, and those values have gotten us through a lot.'

Nobody knows the future, but in times of uncertainty like these, what we don’t know feels like an expanding universe of dire possibilities.
Consider the political, in which the U.S. Justice Department has stated in court documents that it believes the president is guilty of felony campaign finance crimes.

Consider the economic, in which trade conflicts with China, Europe, and even Canada and Mexico, threaten economic stability.

Consider the geographical, in which climate change is upon us and international leadership is lacking, partly because the United States has refused to take the problem seriously.

Or consider the social and moral, where violence in the form of hate crimes and mass shootings is on the upswing.

It’s all pretty depressing, but then again, we’ve been through periods like this before.

I’ve just read a book recounting the turmoil and violence that took place in San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s. It’s shocking to remember all that went on — even though part of that time I was living there.

There were terrifying serial killers — like the Zebra killers — and the weird case of the Symbionese Liberation Army, its murders and the Patty Hearst kidnapping. There was the mass suicide that claimed hundreds of lives among San Francisco church members who had gone to Jonestown in Guyana.

The gay rights revolution had reached full flower in San Francisco, but it was answered with the assassinations of city Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. And let’s not forget the Vietnam War, Watergate — and the resignation of Richard Nixon. No one knew how any of it would turn out.

So now we’ re in the midst of a similar upheaval, some of it potentially more serious than the crises of the 70s. It was important then to hold firm to one’s values and not to give up.

A lot of people came to Vermont in those years — including me — believing in the idea of community and compassion and the need to be stewards of the earth, and those values have gotten us through a lot. It’s beginning to look like they’re going to be more important than ever in the coming years.

David Moats is an author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
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