Men have thought for, presumably, quite a long time. Of course to 20-something-years-olds, 50 years seems like a quite a long time. But regardless of how long man has actually been thinking, one point that stays in contention are accepted virtues, values or morally desirable characteristics. There are virtually as many sets of values as there are people.
Most, if not all people, would agree that rape and murder are not in line with values, but what about some of the gray areas in life — drinking, smoking, premarital sex, underage drinking, abortion or even dancing. If you were brought up in a Southern Baptist church 50 years ago, most of these practices would have been considered outside of morally acceptable behavior.
Examples of peoples differing values present themselves from the simplest human interactions on campus to the great political arena of Washington, DC. Pro-life and pro-choice groups exist all across the country (and even on campus) because of differing values and morals.
But, thankfully, some people have tried to come up with a quantitative list of virtues. For example, there are the Seven Heavenly Virtues, which are comprised of: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. Then there are the Seven Army Values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
But since not everyone agrees with all, or even some of those values, it provides, at best, a guideline for those who do prescribe to those particular ideas. Yet the very process of trying to quantify values may be the very root of the problem. As a list is comprised, it starts to become more and more restrictive, causing people to piecemeal virtues they like from one group’s list with another’s list until everyone has their own list with no two people’s lists being the same.
Here would be a good place to pause and remember a saying. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Whether you believe the religious stature given to Jesus of Nazareth or not, those words would serve humanity well to remember. It could replace the need for ethics and quantified virtues altogether. Just think, a world where everyone considers others and puts their needs ahead of their own.
Editorial by Vern Hockney