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A Conflict of Values

Gloria Steinem, one of best known “feminists” of our time, once said that “we can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.” Had she said it more recently, she likely would have replaced “checkbook stubs” with “online banking debits” or something similar. Her point is that our values are best demonstrated by how we spend our money. In that context, we were recently asked why The Purple Tree no longer belongs to HIBA, the Hudson Independent Business Association, a subgroup of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Our decision, made several years ago, was made because we found ourselves with a value conflict that involved how we spend our money. We continue to love the work of HIBA and we continue to cooperate any time we can without violating our values.

The value conflict arose when the national Chamber of Commerce, of which the local Chamber is a member, became increasingly ideological in areas that conflict with our ideological values, and became increasingly partisan as well. The ideologies (beliefs, ideas, and ideals) of The Purple Tree support peace, social justice, fair trade, and a sustainable environment. As a Green America approved store, the Chamber’s ideology primarily supports business interests at the expense of our fragile environment, and is in direct conflict with one of our purposes. With regard to partisanship (devoted to or biased in support of a political party), The Purple Tree diligently guards its non-partisan identity, believing that our values are found in all political parties and unite us rather than separate us. The US Chamber, as is its right, has thus far in the current election cycle spent almost $15,000,000, primarily in support of Republicans and, to a lesser degree, against Democrats. No money has been spent in support of Democrats. (

So it is real life. We live in a world where we all do not share the same values. As John Kerry said, “values are not just words, values are what we live by. They’re about the causes that we champion and the people we fight for.” When we disagree on values, we each in our own way pick those “that we live by” and “champion.” And we affirm that same right to those with whom we disagree. So choose carefully, because “we can tell our values by looking at” how we spend our money. Happy choosing!