We continue looking at the list of American Values as identified by L. Robert Kohls in “The Values Americans Live By.” (Lehigh University –Career and Profession Development) The invitation is “to think about these things.” Here are the next few values:
Individualism and Privacy: The individualism which has been developed in the western world since the Renaissance, beginning in the late 15th century, has taken its most exaggerated form in 20th century United States. Here, each individual is seen as completely and marvelously unique, that is, totally different from all other individuals and, therefore, particularly precious and wonderful. Americans resist being thought of as representatives of a homogeneous group, whatever the group. They may, and do, join groups — in fact many groups — but somehow believe they’re just a little unique, just a little special, from other members of the same group. And they tend to leave groups as easily as they enter them. In the United States, privacy is not only seen as a very positive condition, but it is also viewed as a requirement which all humans would find equally necessary, desirable and satisfying. Individualism, as it exists in the United States, does mean that you will find a much greater variety of opinions (along with the absolute freedom to express them anywhere and anytime) here.
Self-Help Concept: In the United States, a person can take credit only for what he or she has accomplished by himself or herself. Americans get no credit whatsoever for having been born into a rich family. Americans pride themselves in having been born poor and, through their own sacrifice and hard work, having climbed the difficult ladder of success to whatever level they have achieved — all by themselves.
Competition and Free Enterprise: Americans believe that competition brings out the best in any individual. They assert that it challenges or forces each person to produce the very best that is humanly possible. You may find the competitive value disagreeable, especially if you come from a society which promotes cooperation rather than competition. But many U.S. Peace Corps volunteers teaching in Third World countries found the lack of competitiveness in a classroom situation equally distressing. Americans, valuing competition, have devised an economic system to go with it — free enterprise. Americans feel very strongly that a highly competitive economy will bring out the best in its people and ultimately, that the society which fosters competition will progress most rapidly.
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:5-6
“May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do you agree that Individualism and Privacy, Self-Help and Competition and Free Enterprise are American Values? If so why? If not why not?
What brings out your best?
Who was/is a mentor to you?
Holy God, remind me that “in the living of these days” you are present and hear my prayers. Fill my heart so that I can find you and help me to trust you more deeply. Amen.
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