A month or so ago Steve and I decided to visit the birth place of the hippie movement in the 1960s: Haight-Ashbury. We’ve lived in the Bay Are for nearly ten years and had never walked the streets in this area. Doing so was a must before we left.

We went early in the morning, before most of the stoned people would be up and about, but late enough that we could walk into the shops and snoop around. We found a optometrist’s shop with the most awesome frames I’ve ever seen: Hyperoptics. I’m absolutely in love with their logo! They had the frames pictured above in their window.

I asked how much the TV set frames were. I thought they would make a stupendous pair of mirrored sunglasses until I found out they are one of a kind and sell for $1,000! Whoa! Moving right along. Still, fabulous frames are everywhere in this store!

Steve found a crazy socks shop and became delirious with shopping glee. I bought a couple pair of alien socks, but he promptly took them as his own. He’s worn them a half dozen times each at least. I can tell that I’ll never have them on my feet. I had to hold him back from buying one of everything in the store!

We had a delightful conversation with one of the shop owners, a lady about our age. She spoke of being depressed and seeing a therapist who really helped her come to terms with what was bothering her so. She is mourning the loss of her values–seeing the things that she fought so hard to achieve throughout her lifetime being dismantled in the current era of extremism.

Now, I’m not going to get political on my blog as it serves no positive outcome. But I will share that I’ve pondered her conversation with us as it relates to my own life. And I’ve come to the most remarkable understanding.

As people who know me are aware, I grew up in extreme conservatism with very good people who loved me dearly. They held their values deeply. And what I’ve come to understand is that those values they taught me in my youth, I still live them today. Unchanged.

Unconditional love. Kindness to everyone. Opening your heart to others. Treating everyone the way you want to be treated–with dignity and respect. These values still bubble up from the bottom of my soul and hopefully are seen in what I do day in and day out. They shaped my entire career as a public servant. For me, they remain unchanged.

However, I am unable to honestly say the same for those who taught me these values, who instilled them into the fabric of the man I have become and remain. They have slowly, imperceptibly drifted into something else altogether. Their thinking and their behavior has become the exact opposite of what they once held dear.

I find this frightening because they can’t even see this fact. They have lost the capacity to step outside of their leadership’s reshaped mandates and consider who they once were, what they once believed and held dear. They have slowly been hijacked and taken advantage of.

Sadly, I suspect we will always remain far apart. But I take great comfort in knowing that, despite the changes around me, I still remain tethered to my values. Those values are as strongly held as ever. Maybe I even hold those values dearer because of they are becoming less well-lived in the current world.

Don’t be quick to dismiss me as some free love, tree hugging, pot smoking liberal. Nothing would be further from the truth–well except for the tree hugging part. Dismissive condemnation has been a well-practiced defensive strategy that has only blinded those who taught me my values. Sadly, that same dismissive condemnation keeps them from seeing how far they have drifted from what they once cherished.