I have been highly exposed to three value sets to which I subscribe. The first as a young girl was The Ten Commandments; they are below for reference.
- I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Although I am a secular individual, I understand the benefits of a Christian culture and many of its values. Roman Catholicism (father’s side) and Southern Baptism (mother’s side) cultures have had a profound impact on my moral compass. Not that I didn’t instinctively know the difference between right and wrong; these cultural values put words to my natural senses. As I grew older, the commandments gave me a base from which to explore the nuances of my actions and consequences (e.g. one may honor family while still distancing oneself from destructive behaviors). Speaking of secular values, I do like this “alternative” to The Ten Commandments; although, I would add them to my list instead of replacing the original.
- Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
- Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
- The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
- Every person has the right to control of their body.
- God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
- Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
- Treat others as you would want them to treat you and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
- We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
- There is no one right way to live.
- Leave the world a better place than you found it.
The second value set I was exposed to was that of Gene Autry’s The Cowboy Code. The third value set is The US Air Force Core Values (which I will post about separately). Although these three value sets have had a profound effect in my development, I hold The Cowboy Code closest to my heart. Described as the “tenets promoting an ethical, moral, and patriotic lifestyle”, they are as follows. (These were published in 1947 – give a little latitude when considering them.)
- The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
- He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
- He must always tell the truth.
- He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
- He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
- He must help people in distress.
- He must be a good worker.
- He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
- He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
- The Cowboy is a patriot.
Of course, this value set can be modified to include any sex or gender, any person from any nation or culture. It’s important to explore value sets and consider what speaks to you. Knowing your value will help to guide your behaviors. We don’t have to accept every value we are exposed to. Remember that “it is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it”. Aristotle probably never really said that, but it rings true nonetheless.
I invite you to ponder any value sets you have been exposed to directly or indirectly (indirectly could be via the culture in which you developed). I also invite you to enjoy one of my favorite songs, Happy Trails, by Roy Rogers, The King Of The Cowboys, and Dale Evans, The Queen Of The West. Good luck and God Speed, my friends.
Let me know your thoughts and values; please comment below!