Values | Nature of Society | 28th June 2022 | Virtual Wire
Values are the principles, ethics and morals which fuel the intentions of the person.
It is hard to define values in set squares and boxes because they greatly vary at both individual and community levels. However, a universal idea of value can be a set of ideas which help us make day-to-day decisions and help us distinguish between right and wrong. Right and wrong is also a subjective vision and a very thin lines separate the two. This thin line is sometimes even blurred, creating a “no man’s land”, which ultimately leads people into indecision.
If we forget for time being, the subjective nature of right doings and wrongdoings and limit our understanding of wrongs to actions like cheating, theft, corruption, untruthfulness, cruelty, disregard and endangering someone’s honour; which are universally accepted in the list of “wrongs” then a simpler definition of Values could be drawn. Values in such context mean the set of ideas that guide us not to incline toward wrongdoing.
Having defined the subject matter what comes next is the genesis of such morals. Human beings either “inherit “value systems from their culture, surroundings and society or accentuate their “inherent” value system. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the famous scientist and former President of India, writes in his autobiography that he inherited honesty and deep kindness from his mother while his simplicity was somewhat inherent. These values decided the course of his life and decisions.
Nelson Mandela says, “ Man’s kindness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished” and he further adds that he learnt this from various African American freedom fighters. While a person’s value system is deeply influenced by the emotional and social structure where he thrives, his conscience becomes his guiding light throughout. This very conscience helps in deciding which societal values to accept in life and till what point in life.
As an individual, I have grown with a value system which initially directed my decisions and has increasingly come to define my personality and thinking. I inculcated values like humility, forgiveness and determination from my family. My grandfather taught me how to take up responsibilities with selflessness. From my parents, I inherited empathy and faith in goodness. My culture has made me imbibe essential values like compassion and courage.
I have come to realize that true courage lies in being compassionate for all beings without sticking to personal grudges. Certain values of mine can also be credited to cultures other than my own. Whenever I had chance of visiting a foreign land, meet new people with a distinct set of values, I made sure to imbibe those values too. I learned the importance of values like punctuality, gratitude and acceptance from Japanese culture. I imbibed the philosophies of kaizen ( being better than yesterday) and wabi-sabipaves ( accepting imperfections) from Japanese people, whom I had met during my cultural exchange program.
This also made me understand that despite social, cultural, economic and political differences- the core emotional values are universal. This universality of values pave the way for a better society. At this juncture, the world is entangled in the web of hatred, agony, jealousy and selfishness. People from every creed and country are facing the wrath of either nature or politics and in such a backdrop, the aforementioned values become more important. These values would help us grow as individuals and as a community.
Humility and forgiveness ensure that all people lead a dignified life while empathy erases the social construct that fuels situations like wars. Acceptance and gratitude create room for a peaceful world which is safeguarded by constant compassion. Courage helps to fight against wrongdoings and empathy lets individuals awaken their own innate morals. And once a person has awakened his inner ethics and values, he becomes enlightened, not necessarily in a spiritual or religious sense but rather in an emotional sense. As Buddha put it, “We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think”. Just as individuals make up a society, individual value systems make up society’s value system. And a society led by values and ethics is a safer and better place to exist.