The challenge today is to convince people of the value of truth, honesty, compassion and a concern for others. –Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This, sadly, is true far too often. Yes, there are stand-up people out there, those who value at least three of the items in the quote, some even support all four. But they are all too rare.
You may be lucky and have a group of friends and family who live by these values, but for many, every day is a struggle, having to deal with the people who do not follow them.
Imagine how our governments, from city up through national, would run, if every politician and bureaucrat lived and worked by these values. Some do, but others do not.
That is why the quote states that it is a challenge to get people to get back to the fundamental values of humanity, and turn their backs on greed and selfishness. I believe it can be done.
Why are values important?
We all have values, even the politicians I mentioned in the opening paragraphs. The difficulty is that there are so many things which can be valued that some people end up chosing values which are ultimately harmful to themselves and damaging to society in general.
Truth and honesty are similar, and a basic part of the fabric of society. Imagine trying to do business in a society where honesty and truth are considered optional. How would you know the other party would do what they said they would do? Needless to say, that would be a very different society than what most of us are used to, right?
Compassion and concern are also similar, and a basic part of the fabric of most societies. Imagine living in a society where the less fortunate were simply ignored, or worse. It has happened under certain repressive regimes over the last century, and it wasn’t pretty.
In those societies, different values were held up as being the new ideal for that group of people. Compassion and concern were the first to go, and truth and honesty went shortly thereafter. That is someplace I doubt any of us would want to visit, much less have to live there. Values matter.
Where can I apply this in my life?
I believe I have made a reasonable case for having values, and even for some specific values. But the question remains how should a person employ them? In their closest circles, they may use these values, but drop them when encountering or dealing with strangers. I know I have seen it happen, have you?
Think about each value, and how you apply it to different groups of people. How do you apply it to your family and closest friends? What about acquaintances or strangers? Do they get treated differently? What of the people at work or in your social groups? How do you treat people in general?
Did you find any difference between how you applied a value to a person close to you compared to a stranger or other person in your life? Did you find it disconcerting or disturbing, or are you OK with the difference? If you didn’t notice a difference, think about why you treat all of them in the same way.
This isn’t a value judgement on my part, but I want you to understand and be able to discuss why it is that you behave the way you do, and why your values applied the way they are. Why is that important? If you are going to teach someone else, if you are to convince them, you need to know where you stand, and be able to defend your positions.
Grab some paper and write down a few values that you feel are important not just to you personally, but are useful in society as well. The list should probably start with the values listed in the quote, but could include others which you find useful.
Next to each, write down how well you adhere to the value, and when or in what circumstances you believe it is reasonable to bend the rules, or even abandon the value. As an example, I wouldn’t feel any regret at all for not being honest with a person trying to rob me, would you?
Now comes the hard part. How do we spread the word? The simplest and most straightforward manner is in our actions. If we live our words, if we show our values by our actions, we become an example of the benefit of the values we hold.
How well do you think it would work if you were to lecture someone you saw violating one of these values? Would it sink in, or would they brush away your words and go back to their behavior? I belive the latter, as their behavior is based on their values and their beliefs.
The difficult part is trying to engage them and help them explore their values and beliefs which lead to their behavior. Until they feel a need to change their beliefs and the values they hold dear, their behavior won’t change in the slightest, right?
That said, I have no idea how to do that in a practical manner with anyone other than close friends. I’ve never tried it with a stranger. That said, if everyone helped one or two friends, eventually we’d get everyone on the planet, right? Live by example, and talk to those willing to listen. Any other ideas? Feel free to leave them as a comment.
I believe values matter. What are your thoughts?
For some odd reason, my ‘related articles’ app is still face down in the mud. I hope to have something that works by early next week…