Values and social development

By a long, slow subconscious process of trial and error learning, society acquires experience of how to survive, accomplish, grow and develop. Over long periods the subconscious learning from experience gets distilled into conscious Knowledge that can be passed on from one generation to another as skill, knowledge and values. Skills and knowledge relating to the environment, plants, animals, hunting, agriculture, tool making, metal working, food preparation, health, warfare, construction, the arts, weather, the seasons, technology and countless other subjects are codified and communicated orally or in writing from elders to youth through family, apprenticeships, and various forms of training and education. Thus, humanity's capacity for accomplishment grows from generation to generation.

Above and beyond all these forms of knowledge and skills, society also acquires an even more fundamental and essential knowledge of the qualities that are essential for the preservation, fulfillment, development and evolution of human life. This quintessence of knowledge is also distilled and codified and passed on from one generation to the next in the form of values. Regardless of whether this knowledge of values may be derived from physical experience, mental understanding or spiritual inspiration, values represent what is most essential -- most valuable -- for human life and accomplishment.

Every civilization acquires knowledge of the central importance of values for its survival and growth. The greater that knowledge, the greater the vitality and longevity of that civilization. As civilization advances, it matures into Culture. Apart from the differences in forms and behaviors that characterize different cultures, each mature culture is founded on a bedrock of enduring values. Those values are universal and eternally valid, because they are based on spiritual truth. In the measure a society embraces, adheres to and expresses those values in its living, it acquires the capacity to accomplish, adapt, innovate, create and evolve at higher and higher levels.

The history of the world reveals that nearly every region and country has enjoyed periods of efflorescence and high accomplishment. Ancient China and India, Egypt and Persia, the tribes of Israel, the thought and art of Greek and Italian city states, the Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires, the Aztecs and the Incas, Viking and Portuguese explorers, the colonial empires of Spain, Britain and the Netherlands, the French and Russian Revolutions, German music and philosophy, Japanese beauty and perfection are just a few of the many splendors that our common human heritage has bequeathed to our common future. European science, American technology and enterprise have led the way in recent times. Each has contributed something essential and universally valid to the emergence of a truly global culture. And those which have not yet had their day will undoubtedly contribute as the process continues.

Values are the essence of culture and the essence of our collective wisdom for high accomplishment and fulfillment as a race.