Successful organizations start with people firmly committed to a set of core values, which cannot be compromised without weakening the organization. CESJ’s strength, unity and programs flow from our founding principles, agreed upon by consensus from our first meeting on April 7, 1984. Our core values were developed to guide us in our work, to attract others sharing these values and to serve as the very basis of CESJ’s existence.
As an organization open to all people, we think that our core values, once understood, are universally appealing. We see this reflected in the broad diversity of the backgrounds of those who come together because of these shared values. The essence of our founding principles has not changed from the founding of CESJ. But, as we discuss them together and with others, we will continue to refine and clarify our values by consensus. The following are CESJ’s core values:
- There is an ultimate Source of all creation and of all universal and absolute values such as Truth, Beauty, Love and Justice, which represent the highest ends of human actions. Many people call this Source, God.
- Nothing should stand between God and the human person.
- There is a hierarchy of human work: The highest form of work is perfecting the social order to elevate each person in his or her relationship to God. The lowest but most urgent form of work is for sheer personal survival.
- In interacting with nature to promote one’s own perfection, every person must respect the rest of creation. Each human being, a steward of nature, remains responsible for conserving natural forms of existence, each of which is interdependent and shares the same divine origin with humanity.
- Under the ultimate sovereignty of God, all sovereignty in the social order begins with the human person—not institutions including the family, the State, organized religion, the business corporation, the labor union, or academia.
- The essential means to achieve the sovereignty of the person include such inalienable human rights as the right to life, liberty, and access to productive property and free markets, equality of opportunity, and the secret ballot. These rights—including the rights of property—are not ultimate ends in themselves, but they are intermediate ends or fundamental means to enable each person to pursue Truth, Beauty, Love and Justice.
- People create tools, shaped from the resources and energies of nature, to support the economic and social sovereignty of the person. Through private property ownership, each person can become master of the technology needed to realize his or her fullest human potential and dignity.
- People also create and maintain social institutions as highly specialized “invisible tools” designed to serve highly specialized social functions within a just social order. Institutions, as organized expressions of society’s values and goals, largely determine the quality of each person’s individual and social life. As historical creations of humanity carrying within themselves the wounds of history, institutions are continually in need of healing and perfecting.
- The highest responsibility of each person is to pursue absolute values and to promote economic and social justice in his or her personal life and all associations with others.