What are the traditional core values I keep referring to as the critical building blocks of our society? I’m not sure the order or ranking of them is as important as the recognition that these valuable traits once learned and engrained in one’s personality will serve one well for a lifetime. These are the traits that help one achieve one’s hopes and dreams. There are likely ones I have missed naming, but these are the traits I value most in myself and those with whom I prefer to associate.
• Honesty: A truthful and open approach to all your actions. We also must be honest with ourselves: Each of us must be willing to recognize our faults, weaknesses and inappropriate actions and demonstrate a willingness to correct them through responsible action.
• Learning: We each need to be open to learning new methods, ideas and skills. A strong sense of curiosity and a desire to expand one’s store of knowledge are critical to success. Education is lifelong process and isn’t complete when one leaves school.
• Work Ethic: An internal self discipline to be responsible and committed to putting forth your best effort in all that you do. People with strong work ethics are focused on creating work of high quality and value and being productive regardless of the task assigned. It is important to develop an appreciation of your own work and a sense of accomplishment and gratification from performing a task correctly the first time.
• Communication: The ability to convey thoughts, ideas, and instructions to others and to understand what others are conveying to you. Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are essential in all walks of life.
• Teamwork: The ability to work and collaborate with others. A commitment to be part of a team requires trust in all members, trust based on the fact that each will do their best to fulfill their role.
• Dependability: A commitment to live up to your promises so that those with whom you interact can be confident of your integrity.
• Problem solving: The process of examining potential options and outcomes and selecting a course of action with the best possible outcome.
• Adaptability: One must be flexible and adjust to changing conditions.
• Independence: The ability to act individually without supervision or direction, and to take ownership and be creative. Independence is tied to risk taking, goal setting and being responsible for one’s actions.
• Respect: This traditional core value is closely tied to both the Golden Rule and self-esteem. Individuals with respect for themselves and others are foundational to healthy societies. Individuals should show appropriate deference to property and authority and care about their health, fitness and hygiene. Other things tied to respect for others include maintaining a sense of fairness, appreciating diversity, and recognizing honest differing opinions and a sense of fairness.
• Morality: An internal compass that differentiates between right from wrong, good from evil, and the ultimate consequences of our actions. Moral conduct allows for the acceptance of a higher supreme authority.
Without these core values at the root of our society we will continue down a path that rewards taking shortcuts, cutting corners, slacking off, taking the easy way out, making excuses, and blaming everyone else when things don’t work out as you would like.
The qualities listed above must be taught from an early age, practiced and further developed by being held accountable in the schools years and then fully applied in adulthood.
If we truly practiced and rewarded these values, we would see far less cheating, violence, and drug use, and have a far more accountable governmental system than we have today. Today, spinning reality and the truth is an artform.
I believe the problems we see in society today can be corrected if we realize that our drift away from these core values has played a significant role in the decline of our nation. I hope readers will consider the impact of that decline on our children’s generations. Their lives will be rooted in the steps we take today.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.