Types of values
We can speak of universal values, because ever since human beings have lived in community, they have had to establish principles to guide their behavior towards others.
In this sense, honesty, responsibility, truth, solidarity, cooperation, tolerance, respect and peace, among others, are considered universal values.
However, in order to understand them better, it is useful to classify values according to the following criteria:
• Personal values:
These are considered essential principles on which we build our life and guide us to relate with other people. They are usually a blend of family values and social-cultural values, together with our own individual ones, according to our experiences.
• Family values:
These are valued in a family and iare considered either good or bad. These derive from the fundamental beliefs of the parents, who use them to educate their children. They are the basic principles and guidelines of our initial behavior in society, and are conveyed through our behaviors in the family, from the simplest to the most complex.
• Social-cultural values:
These are the prevailing values of our society, which change with time, and either coincide or not with our family or personal values. They constitute a complex mix of different values, and at times they contradict one another, or pose a dilemma.
For example, if work isn’t valued socially as a means of personal fulfillment, then the society is indirectly fostering “anti-values” like dishonesty, irresponsibility, or crime.
Another example of the dilemmas that social-cultural values may pose is when they promote the idea that “the end justifies the means”. With this as a pretext, terrorists and arbitrary rulers justify violence, intolerance, and lies while claiming that their true goal is peace.
• Material values:
These values allow us to survive, and are related to our basic needs as human beings, such as food and clothing and protection from the environment. They are fundamental needs, part of the complex web that is created between personal, family and social-cultural values. If exaggerated, material values can be in contradiction with spiritual values.
• Spiritual values:
They refer to the importance we give to non-material aspects in our lives. They are part of our human needs and allow us to feel fulfilled. They add meaning and foundation to our life, as do religious beliefs.
• Moral values:
The attitudes and behaviors that a society considers essential for coexistence, order, and general well being.
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