We have seen in the past weeks the beliefs of many…in some cases most…Americans. What, though, do you believe? For example:
- You don’t like to wear a seat belt but you believe it will save your life
- You pray to God. Even if you have never seen or touched God you believe He exist. Even if your prayers are not answered you believe it is better to pray than to not pray.
- Sometimes certain people or organizations make you extremely angry. You can buy a gun and commit murder in retaliation but you don’t because you believe that is a wrong response. You believe the consequences do not justify the behavior.
- Your child gives you a difficult time getting ready for school. It would be easier to just let the child sit around all day and play video games but you believe that getting an education is a critical factor in becoming a self-supporting, fulfilled, and a productive member of society.
Values are the guiding principles that combine with our core beliefs to affect our attitudes, opinions, choices and behavior. Values identify what we m! aintain to be right and desirable in life, and they therefore influence our goals as well. Before you arrive at a conclusion, you usually consider the alternative courses of action in light of what you believe about the moral, spiritual, relational, perceptual, cultural, intellectual, and emotional implications of those choices. In most situations you instantaneously arrive at a decision based on the core values and beliefs you have carefully tested and embraced over time. Those values were primarily developed and adopted before you reached your teenage years. They were influenced mostly by your parents, the media to which you were exposed, your understanding of the law, the dominant values of the culture you were growing into, and your exposure and understanding of God’s Word…if you were so fortunate as to be able to attend a Godly church.
America is the product of the cumulative values of its people. Fed up with the values of their native country, our brave founders put their lives on the line to be true to what they held to be right, important, defensible, and factual. These brave Christian, God fearing men and women did not wait for a ‘miracle’ but instead asked God for guidance, strength, wisdom and then took action. Under threat of death these brave souls did what had to be done. Under the threat of the world’s most powerful armed force and the ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ of those who felt ‘servitude’ was better than freedom, these patriots developed the central documents that define our nation…the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights…all the product of the values of the people, the Founding Fathers, and the nation’s leaders.
Next we will take a look at the core values and support values of our founders and then at the same values a quarter of a millennium later. How have these values been permitted to change so drastically and what impact will they have on the future of this nation?
– Bob Munsey