Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Basic Values of Western Civilization

Sorry to regurgitate this one, but it comes from Dave Pires comments. Ja I stole your comment for my main event, so thanks for that. I hope you don't mind. Given the political heat here in the States, I had to "run some game."
This snippet comes from the 1960's piece of literature titled, "Basic Values of Western Civilization" and reads as...

"Whatever deviations from the ideal values of Western culture exist because of differences in education, status in society, or professional affiliation, the fact remains that the most remarkable digressions from the norms are the result of extraordinary situations. In the case of war, for example, we throw off our respect for human life, our taboos regarding killing, our appreciation for conducting ourselves according to the Golden Rule, and our ideas about progress toward higher levels of civilization. All things which we consider to be the very goals which constitute purpose in life are, at least temporarily, thrown into the discard.
That our basic values should be put so completely aside under the stress of certain situations is extraordinary. This very fact constitutes an aspect of our cultural behavior which requires serious consideration, for it prompts the question whether or not certain values are really basic if they cannot control our actions in moments of crisis.
An easy way to avoid this problem would be to say that in the case of war some groups within the culture - and very small groups at that - decide to get what they want by means which are incompatible with our values and that part of the culture which is attacked has to defend itself. Thus all the culture is thrown into a deviant position by a minority, and a struggle goes on in which some values are disregarded in order to preserve most of the values in the longer run. In some instances such a rationalization of our shortcomings might be in conformity with the facts, but there are others when it is not...
...Because the maintenance of our value system depends so heavily upon social organization, it follows, of course, that when there is social disorganization, the behavior of people departs from the culture’s norms. If, for example, men are brought under arms and told to kill to preserve their nationality or themselves, they have to give up some of their values in order, so they are taught to believe, to keep other values. Moreover, both the military and nationalist leaders provide sanctions against those who do not conform to wartime behavior. Then, too, as men are separated from those groups from which pressures emanate to make them adhere to the peacetime value line, they indulge in behavior that is at odds with ordinary basic values.
Consequently, any movement in society which results suddenly in social disorganization - that destroys those agencies which make people conform to social prescriptions or which free men from those agencies - is certain to result in variations in our value behavior. From this it follows that if we would keep our value system intact, we should maintain our organization of society. There may be a necessity for change, but change is realized with the least amount of disorganization if it takes place slowly. Peaceful change and effective social organization are the chief pillars which sustain our value system.”

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