Article originally published in Free Press Journal.
Values are our guiding principles. Values reflect our sense of right and wrong. Values help us grow and develop. They help us create the future we have envisaged for ourselves. The decisions we make every day are based on our values.
Human values are formed from everything that makes us human: Our biology, our upbringing, parents, family both immediate and extended last but not the least from society.
Human values exist in people’s minds, guiding us and the society for individual and collective action. Individual values are delusions as values cannot exist in isolation, they are influenced by society. Instead of creating our own values, our values always arise out of a social context i.e. culture, nation, tribe, class, company, club, family, team, etc. Whatever our values may be, they are never distinctively our own.
Values are important as these connect us to the community or society at large. Values guide us, how to behave if we have to be accepted and respected in society. The more aligned our values and in turn our actions with society’s accepted set of values, the more accepted we are in society. The higher we rise in the social hierarchy, the better we implement the value hierarchy, making us more virtuous.
Human values are the key to power i.e. for leadership, for higher social status, for recognition. Values are labels for acquiring high social status, for increasing one’s influence within a social group, community or organisation. They are a deliberate expression of the will to power. That is the importance of values in life.
Values are important because they guide our actions to help us gain influence among those people who matter most to us, whose love and respect we crave, with whom we want to be associated. This explains why there is a widespread need for pride and a universal dislike of hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who professes to adhere to a community’s or society’s values while the actions profess otherwise. The value hierarchy is not adhered to, social status is generally lost. Values define us in society.
We can alter our values only by altering our social environment or our emotional investment in the environment. We choose social groups that value things and skills we are talented in and naturally inclined to do. When our personality aligns well with a certain group, we will organically align our actions with its values. Then we may rise to the top of the social hierarchy — to power.