(Content warning: food, eating disorders, uspol, anti-Black racism, transphobia)

I feel like, in this politically-divided world, the concept of "values" is so very important. I also think people don't get what I mean when I say "values".

"We all value the same things" is observably untrue. We don't even all *need* the same things (sex is commonly cited along with needs like food and shelter, but some people don't want *or* need sex), though our needs generally pull from a pool of common biological and mental health necessities.

But it's entirely possible to need something you don't value, or value something you don't need. Values are what you *think* should be important, whether or not consensus reality agrees.

For example, we all need food. That's non-negotiable. But how we position food in our lives, what our values about food *are*, is different. Some people are fearful of food, due to eating disorders, trauma, or both. Some people refuse to eat animals or animal byproducts, even if there is no other food available. Some people fast for religious reasons. Some people go on hunger strikes.

These are all relationships to food that run counter to our physical needs, and generally our base emotional desires. We have higher-order relationships to our needs based on abstract concepts like fairness, compassion, purity, faith, or things like "how we appear to others" or "how we can attain X goal".

These are all very much constructs in our heads, but they drive us. Me and another person may both have the same biological needs, but I value the freedom to express one's inner self through bodily transformation and they value... not that. They may value being able to look out on a neighbourhood that looks "clean". They may value the adrenaline rush that comes from trolling people on the internet. I don't know what they value, but I know they don't want to live in a society that looks like the one I want, because they're trying to build the opposite.

Also, because they've said so. "American values". "Family values". "Traditional values". They're all codewords for "I want a community of my own kind; a community that shares my values. I want that isolating bubble. That matters to me." More and more these days they're just saying it out loud: I've seen several comments go viral along the lines of "the presence of Black people in this media makes it less of a utopia".

Black folks, Latino folks, homeless folks, queers, weirdos, furry freaks-- we don't belong in their bubble. Our lives are not valued by them. They think us grotesque.

And, frankly, I find their values grotesque. I understand the impulse, but I think it's ugly-- because it clashes with what *I* value. If I didn't value morphological freedom so much, I wouldn't care quite as much, and maybe I'd be harping about some other thing instead.

On the flipside, most values do have causes based in our needs and drives. If I wasn't a trans dragon critter, I probably wouldn't value morphological freedom as much as I do. If I didn't have trauma around privacy I wouldn't value it like I do. And if you want a person to value something like traditionalism less, and something like diversity more, it helps to give them good experiences with the latter; ask the guy who got all those Klan members to hang up their robes.

But whether you're fighting them or freeing them, you've got to start with the awareness that you're working from different value sets. I see so many people hung up on "why can't they see things my way" when the plain truth is, they don't.

And that's really true of everyone, not just people on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I was assigned in therapy to listen to this one audiobook, I honestly forget the name, but it was a woman with this mind-freeing method where she was telling people to let go of the "should"s in their relationships. "Yeah, he 'should' pick up his socks. But he isn't."

The way she put it didn't click for me, but now I get it. It's not about being magically okay with the socks on the floor but about recognising that the person does not share your values, your sentiments, your deeply-felt personal hatred of socks on the floor. And you won't change that by appealing to the idea that socks shouldn't be on the floor, because this person clearly feels that actually, it's okay if socks are on the floor and not a big deal, but having to find somewhere to put the socks they're just going to wear again in an hour *does* feel like a big deal.

One values their personal energy, one values their clean floor, and neither is *wrong*, they're just incompatible. Learn to live with it or break up over it.

Unfortunately, we can't just break up with politics. The murder of those who dare to look ugly against the manicured green lawns of Pleasantville will keep happening, and at what point do we say, this is a xenocide of all except a certain, narrow kind of person?