I have a problem. Every time someone talks to me about their “values”, I want to run away. The earlier the invocation of said values comes, the less I can believe it. An example. I don’t yet know the man facing me at the table. “For me, the essential thing is people. This is almost his first sentence. What do you want me to tell you? What do you want me to answer him? That I too adore the human? Or do I much prefer dogs or machines? Perhaps besides, in front of my embarrassed silence, he wondered if I was not an enemy of the human race… In fact, I don’t have a problem, but two.
The first is that radical suspicion that fills me when someone talks about their values, instead of manifesting them through their actions. I always have the impression that if he talks about it, it is to compensate for a lack of exemplarity. Anyway, if there’s anything to talk about, it’s good that it doesn’t show enough… A little advice to companies, by the way: don’t display your charters of values too much on the walls of your corridors, is downright fishy. Exemplarity, in the literal sense, designates the strength of a behavior that speaks for itself, that speaks for itself. Recently, a business manager (Jean-Louis Brissaud) donated a large part of the year’s profit to his employees: the act speaks for itself. This entrepreneur did not need to double the act with speech. Obviously, what I write is hard to hear. We are the children of Greece and Christianity. On the Greek side, the strength of logos. On the other, the verb at the beginning. Not easy to stop talking! But that is precisely the power of exemplarity. We must understand that we also have this resource: taking action – which shuts down the chatterbox and imposes itself – which is stronger than words.
The other problem is that I have seen too many men or women who have harmed themselves in the name of their “values”, who have moved away from their desire, from their singular truth, in the name of a supposed duty, of the so-called fidelity to their values. Bad luck: these values were often not theirs as individuals, but those of their families, social classes, companies, of those they wanted to resemble… They were then faithful to these values only at the price of an infidelity to their true desire. The reference to “values” is often very practical for those who do not want to listen to their desires, nor seize their freedom. Let’s be honest: values are very vague. It’s something abstract, up there, in the heaven of ideas. Our life is made of another wood, of a reality whose resistance and beauty we measure every day. We aspire to make our values or principles – what we believe in – triumph in reality. And we are right. But let’s try to talk about it less. We will feel obliged to bring them to life in practices, looks, smiles, in a whole series of concrete decisions. To bring them down from heaven to earth, out of the gangue of words for – you never know? – triumph in the world. They will be much more useful there.