Monday, February 25, 2008

Core Values (Glen Allport)

Glen Allport gets right to the core of what makes a healthy society:

There are only a few universal core values required for a healthy life and a healthy society, yet there are hundreds of religious sects and political movements and parties.

The blizzard of rules, beliefs, supernatural storylines, government-as-parent schemes, god-as-parent fantasies, and all the rest of the sometimes beautiful, sometimes odd, sometimes horrifying cultural add-ons that grow up around political and religious groups of every stripe are for the most part not fundamental and are too-often at odds with healthy values.

Love and freedom – including love and freedom for children specifically – form the core of every healthy social structure and religion. But even if the core values are healthy, those values may become diluted, hidden, and corrupted by an overgrowth of other material. Sometimes this material is added to hijack the religion or the social/political structure for personal or political gain; sometimes the material is added by people wanting formal procedures or other ways to celebrate the core values. Even when not in conflict with healthy core values, the sheer volume of this added material can obscure the whole point of the exercise: to foster love and freedom, especially for the young. Everything worthwhile in life flows from and requires those two connected qualities – and as even the ancients knew, early life shapes adult character, behavior, and experience.

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