That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
What would we be without ‘our values’?
How could we judge things/people and evaluate situations without being guided by them?
But what if the ‘objects of our judgement’ do not belong to the same value system as we do?
I’m writing this immediately after reading a FB post. A female teacher, who ‘tries to be vegan’, has rather abruptly informed one of her female students “I don’t eat animals”, right after she had finished boasting about hunting a deer with her father. The student’s face ‘fell of’ and the teacher was wondering whether the Principal will chastise her.
Is ‘not eating animals’ a value?
What is a value, after all? And do we go on affirming our values on every occasion?
By Google-ing ‘value’ one gets “principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.”they internalize their parents’ rules and values””
It seems that a value is something extremely personal, ‘one’s judgement of what is important in life’, but also something that is learned from somebody else, “they internalize their parents’ rules and values”…
In this situation it would it be safe to say that a value is something which is simultaneously considered important by both a group and the individual members of that group?
Doesn’t make much sense? Except from an ‘arithmetical’ point of view?
Well… Let me give you an example.
Europe used to be a Christian continent.
Not anymore. A considerable number of Europeans no longer belong to any church and a lot of them do not consider anymore that God is their Maker.
But, on the whole, most Europeans still consider Christianity to be a ‘value’. Because they understand the role played by Christianity in the development of humankind, because there still are a lot of people who share this faith… the really important thing here being that very few Europeans would purposefully deface a Christian symbol, even when/if nobody would ever find out who did it. And this is valid even for the majority of the hard-core atheists.
At the same time, very few Europeans would – even among the believers – dream of imposing their creed, by force, on other people.
So what is the real value here? ‘Faith in God’ or ‘Live and let live’?
Actually I’m convinced that there is a direct connection between these two.
The Old Testament teaches us that ‘God made Man in his own image.’
It is very simple to make another step forward and understand that those who had written this believed that all men (or at least all those who shared their values) were equals among them (simply because they had been cast in the same ‘mould’) and, at the same time, that each of them shared at least a spark of divinity (the mould having a divine origin).
Europeans shared this value for two millennia.
No wonder that at some point it had morphed into what we now call ‘the human rights’ – a very similar concept/value, which produces the same social consequences: ‘Live and let live’.
Then how come some of the Christians felt very comfortable when using the sword as an argument to convert ‘the pagans’ to the only ‘true religion’?
Well… an alternative definition for ‘value’ could be ‘a certain conviction, reached out rather as a consequence of a specific set of circumstances than as a rationally deliberated conclusion, and shared by the members of the group living under those circumstances’.
According to this hypothetical definition the functional role of a value would be to ‘make it easier’ for each of those people. The ‘shared’ value would constitute a communication medium among the members of the community and a standard/guide for each of the individuals.
The problem with all this, as proven all along the human history, being that from time to time people act as if ‘values’ are ‘castles to be defended’. Or even ‘banners which have to be implanted on conquered soil’. Remember the Christians who used the sword to baptize pagans? Or the pyre to cleanse the souls of the sinful witches and those of the wicked heretics?
What happened in those moments with ‘Live and let live’? What drove those people to forget that ‘the others’ were also made ‘in His image’?
Or, in our days, how come there are so many people who consider that it’s OK to practically insult others while professing their own ‘values’. Which are not so widely shared as they would like them to be.
The strangest thing of all being that this very insistence, which sometimes becomes bullying, constitutes one of the reasons for which some of those values have such a hard time being accepted by ‘the others’.