Values in Tension

Often when we disagree with others, we may assume that we do not have shared values. This activity illustrates that we often do have shared values—and our differences lie in the way we prioritize them.

Recognizing the possibility of shared values, and the complexity of both sides, may allow us to better understand those whose opinions we do not share.

This offers another portal into a conversation, which extends beyond the immediate disagreement, into finding common ground and building bridges, despite differences.


1. Where possible, divide into small groups of 2-5 to ensure each participant has a voice in the activity.

2. Have each participant begin by turning over the Freedom card and sharing:

    • What does this value mean to me?
    • How is it expressed in my life?
    • How is it expressed in North American society?
    • How is it expressed in Israeli society?

3. Set aside the Freedom card and introduce the Security card. Answer the same questions.

4. Once both values have been discussed, reflect on the following:

    • In North American and in Israeli society, what are examples of when these two values are in harmony, and when they are in tension?
    • How would you place the two values in order of priority when they do come into tension?


1. Select the Diversity card and Equality card and repeat the exercise.

2. Now, prioritize all four values.

    • By sharing each person's ranking of the four values, we see that even within small groups, there can be great diversity.

3. Debrief: in small groups, compare and discuss rankings across the four values.

4. Once both values have been discussed, reflect on the following:

    • Where were you similar?
    • Where were you different?
    • Why did you prioritize certain values over others?
Please Note:

It is important when asking individuals to prioritize, that you are NOT asking them to CHOOSE a value. Each of us can (and do) hold multiple values, but when they come into tension, we must prioritize one over the other.


Review the remaining values. Continue to think about what they mean and how to prioritize them all together, so that all eight values are integrated and ranked according to your own priorities.

    • What was easy about this activity?
    • What was difficult about this activity?
    • Can someone share what they ranked first and/or last and why?
    • Where were the areas of greatest common ground?
    • What were some areas of greatest divergence?
Please Note:

It is NOT important or desired for the group to arrive at consensus on a definition/meaning of the value. Part of the exercise is to recognize that there are many different ways to think about individual values.


1. Think of a policy issue in North America or in Israel that you are concerned about.

2. Discuss together the range of opinions/possibilities about this issue.

3. Identify the specific values (and values in tension) that influence your views about this policy.

    • How is the conversation about this topic different/same when framed within a values-based approach?

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