Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Values of Modern Society?

The title of this post is a small part of a writing prompt in one of the study courses I am taking. The entire question is about comparing and contrasting a set of virtues with the values of the society in which I live...which, of course, means I have to decide what I think the values of said modern society are, savvy?

At first, this was a bit daunting as I have never been very good at inferences on the abstract and more subtle levels of things. I am blunt and straight-forward, and determining the values of my society is not very concrete. There is a wide array, a tapestry if you will, of groups and subgroups of society, each adhering to their own views and marching to their own set of value-drums. It dawned on me then that just as these groups all got to choose their values, I, too, get to choose which ones end up my list. And there is the first value: choice

As a society, regardless of what it is we choose to do, to believe, to eat, to think, to feel, to speak, or even to NOT do, we all value our inherent right to make those choices for ourselves. We the people have deemed from the beginning that all men and women had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness---in any way we choose. Our Founding Fathers left everything they were brought up to hold dear for our continued right to choose, and the freedom to continue to do so is one of the main ways in which we honor them. By choice.

Research also shows that of the percentage of students who graduate high school, those who attend college are statistically more likely to be deemed as successful in life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "of the 3.2 million youth age 16 to 24 who graduated from high school between January and October 2012, about 2.1 million (66.2 percent) were enrolled in college in October" (Labor). As a whole, our younger generations are embracing this fact, because the second value that we honor and respect is intelligence.

Intelligence is often equated with logic, understanding, mental acuteness, and even wisdom. One of my favorite definitions sums it up nicely: "the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations" (Merriam-Webster). On a scientific note, one word equated with intelligence is "adaptability," meaning that the animals who were intelligent enough to adapt to change where the ones capable of living in difficult and new surroundings as their environments evolved. Survival of the fittest. As a society, we value our intelligence, framing plaques and diplomas that scream of our intellectual accolades in prominent places for all to see. If we as individuals in our choice-driven society wish to evolve with our ever-growing and ever-changing world, we must feed our intelligence and help it to grow.

As I sit here writing these thoughts with a light fall breeze upon my brow from the open window, the smell of warm tea and incense dancing around me, and these words flowing like water toward a stream from my mind to my fingertips, I am graced with the third value I choose to place upon my list. In our intelligence, we require creativity. We require elegance in design. We require upgrades and cleaner lines. We applaud simplicity and symmetry in design. We hold dear the arts that tap into our emotions, those soaring or dulcet tones that turn our ears toward them as though Ogmios himself had wound our ears with delectable chains of honey-sweet words, because we, as a people, value beauty

It is said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. This is simply understood when coupled with a value of choice. We choose what faces, sounds, words, places, books, ideas, and on and on we find beautiful, because it is beauty that softens the intelligence we seek and makes us whole. Find your beauty, dear reader. Choose what it is that you find beautiful. Learn all you can about it. Be whole. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally, I do believe there is a fourth value, materialism, but I choose not to write about that.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. "College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2012 High School Graduates." Web. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 10/01/2013 from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.nr0.htm

Merriam-Webster. "Intelligence." Web. Retrieved 10/01/2013 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence