Values and Change

Values are those things that we move toward or away from. They either attract us or repel us. They are what we are willing to invest time, energy and resources in to achieve, or to avoid. Our friend and colleague Dr Wyatt Woodsmall suggests the following principles when considering Values:

  • All human decisions are based on values which are usually outside of conscious awareness.
  • Values are the basis of the criteria on which all decisions are made
  • Values find conscious expression in our ideas of good/bad, right/wrong, beautiful/ugly, just/unjust, healthy/harmful, mature/immature, appropriate/inappropriate, and desirable/undesirable.
  • Values provide the framework within which ethical decisions are made. They answer the question “why ought I to do that?” They arise from our fundamental premises about what life is, why we exist, and how we think about things.
  • Since people differ in their values, what is right for some is criminal to others; heroes in some eyes are the lowest of the low to someone else. One person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’. From whatever value system you are in, all other systems seem at best dull and boring, at worst criminal and insane.
  • Whilst we all share one planet, we don’t all live in the same world. There are many different perspectives on ‘the good’ or ‘the right’. That’s why we argue so much. People don’t all think about things the same way, and the framework for deciding what to do is different from one person to the next, one group to another or one nation to another.
  • As people shift views of what the world is about, their basis for judgment changes.
  • As our values change our decisions and actions change and people with similar values think and behave in similar ways.
  • Values theory is concerned with what a person’s values are and not what they should be. It is also concerned with how values originate and change and most of all with how values affect our thoughts and actions.
  • The principle questions addressed by values theory are:
    • What are human values?
    • How are they created?
    • What stages of development do they go through?
    • How do they change over time?
  • Value Systems themselves are non-judgmental. The Graves’ model doesn’t argue that there is a single best system or a qualitative hierarchy.  Instead it provides a map revealing why a system is appropriate to its context, why particular solutions best fit certain sets of problems, and what must change if change is to occur.
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