First, this book is unique in subject. Dr. Wayne Baker is reporting a surprising truth about Americans: We are united by 10 Core Values. This truth is empowering because it enables us to rise above and see beyond political polarization, Washington gridlock, the imagery of Red/Blue states, and the rhetoric of culture wars and class warfare. In these pages, Dr. Baker shows how Americans agree on a surprising number of principles, based on years of nonpartisan, scientifically balanced polling and research. Second, this book is exceptional in its format, designed for individual reading and flexible use in classes, small groups and other settings where men and women enjoy civil discussion about the urgent issues of our day. Educators and business leaders will find this book very useful, partly because it is so easy to adapt for your setting. You may choose to read it cover to cover or tailor it to your particular interests and preferences. You can select the chapters and values you are most eager to read about and read them in any order. Within each chapter you will find topics to contemplate and discuss, along with questions that will stimulate reflection and respectful discussion about a value, what it means, and the challenges of applying it. Dr. Baker defines a Core American Value as a value that is strongly held by a large majority of Americans, stable over time, and shared across diverse demographic, religious, and political lines. A core value is not a prescription of what Americans ought to believe, but what Americans actually do believe. The meaning of "core values" can be seized, manipulated, and wielded by either side of the political aisle. This book is an attempt to reclaim the concept of "core values" from those who would usurp it, and make it a more neutral term. The idea that we share certain basic values is valuable and empowering-it's an insight that can bridge political chasms rather than deepen them.
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