The Human Values Project is a forum dedicated to reinvigorating the discussion of human values in contemporary life.
You who are on the road
Must have a code
That you can live by
And so become your self
Because the past
Is just a goodbye
— Teach Your Children
It provides resources to help:
- Individuals articulate their core values and cultivate meaningful lives around them
- Parents and teachers to foster life-long learning and character development in children
- Couples and relationship partners coordinate their interests and values in order to manage interpersonal conflict
- Communities move beyond polarizing positions manage, bridge and transcend conflicts around issues of social interests and values
It is not possible to live a value-neutral life. Our values reflect our sense of what is good, important or worthwhile. They are what give our lives meaning, direction and purpose. Indeed, we are most fulfilled when we feel that we have acted in ways that are consistent with our sense of what is good.
However, in recent decades, it has become increasingly difficult to talk about issues related to values and morality. There are many reasons why this is so. Here are a few:
- We have become a very polarized society. Conservatives tend not to talk to liberals. Liberals don’t talk to conservatives. Each side thinks the other is crazy.
- Some people believe that there can be only one set of moral values. Not surprisingly, they tend to alienate people who hold opposing values.
- We have become a more tolerant society. This is a good thing. However, our tolerance sometimes leads to an “anything goes” mentality: If different people have different values, “Who am I to judge?”
If values give our lives direction, we cannot live full and happy lives without them. And so, to become happy, we must work to live lives that are good. This means cultivating our selves – our sense of who we are — around some set of values.
Of course, people differ in their values. If this is so, we must find ways to manage the clashes of interests and values that are an inevitable part of our individual and collective lives. In a pluralistic society, regardless of our religious, cultural or political views, we need to find ways to work toward shared systems of human values, to engage people who hold different value systems, and to manage the inevitable conflicts that arise from such diversity.