Power of Values

ARTICLE | | BY Janani Harish

Janani Harish

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Value is a discipline internalized as self-discipline. It is a universal ideal of conduct, an idealized goal of perfection. In all great stories in history, biography, business and current affairs, we see a very close relationship between values and accomplishment. Values are of many levels, the physical, social and mental. Just as physical skills are the channels through which physical energy is directed so that it produces results, values play a similar role at the psychological level. The quality of the values and the intensity of our commitment to them determine the level of our accomplishment. The power of a value comes from the measure in which it is accepted in the emotions. There is a passion felt for the value. The commitment is unconditional. Striving for high values is not a luxury for the successful; it is a way to become successful.

1. Introduction

There was once a young American legislator who ran for the senate. He needed to defeat two others who were in the fray, Joel Matteson and Lyman Trumbull, to win the seat. He had 38% support, and Trumbull only 9%. Matteson was leading, with 44%. But what was of greater concern to this legislator about Matteson was not his vote base but his character. Matteson was not a man of character (he was later charged with financial fraud).Whereas the legislator shared a common vision for the country with Trumbull. When it became clear that he could not win the election, he withdrew from the race. Rather than splitting the votes and allowing Matteson to win, he backed Trumbull and urged his supporters to do the same. He wanted the right person in the senate, and not a man of questionable character. Not himself, but the right person. Everyone, including Trumbull, was surprised to see the young man giving up his great advantage, but he only said, “I could not let the whole political result go to ruin, on a point merely personal to myself.” Trumbull won the seat, and the legislator won Trumbull. When he later contested the elections at the national level, Trumbull was one of his loyal supporters. He was already known for his honesty and ethical practice. As a lawyer, he took up cases only if he believed the client was innocent. When he knew otherwise, he walked away from considerable fees without a thought. This man happened to be Abraham Lincoln, and we know where adopting high values took him.

All stories of great men and women, of successful organizations and flourishing societies have one element in common – values. A study of accomplishment shows a very close relationship between high positive values and sustained success.

2. What is a Value?

"Crises often reveal latent capacities."

A value is a high principle, an ideal of conduct. When Abraham Lincoln withdrew from the race, his ideal was the country’s welfare. He made his own personal interest subservient to the national interest. No one forced him to withdraw or even suggested it to him. If anything, they dissuaded him from doing it. His principle of acting for the greater good was an act of self-discipline.

Value is a discipline that is internalized as self-discipline. It provides an internal reference for what is right, good, and important. It is an idealized goal of perfection, perfection being the ultimate of every quality. Each object, person or group can have a number of qualities. Take a computer, for example. It can be powerful, easy to use, well designed, light and affordable. When all these attributes are met, we call the computer perfect. Every one of these attributes is a value. In the case of a company, what would its attributes be? Reliability, quality products, good organization, customer service, punctuality, safety, cleanliness and many more. Every one of these attributes that contributes to its perfection is a value of that company. When the positive values of hard work, sincerity, generosity, honesty, creativity, sense of humor, patience - the list is endless - are expressed to the utmost degree, the individual exhibits perfection in an infinite number of dimensions. And each strand of that perfection expresses a value.

Values can also be seen as ever receding goals. One can never attain a value; one is always in the process of practicing it. Take the simple quality of cleanliness. Right after an object or a place has been made spotlessly clean it takes non-stop effort to maintain it so. How long does it take before dust settles in a spot that has just been cleaned, or something is dropped or spilled? A person is good tempered or honest if he or she practices it all day, every day. A single lie or an angry outburst is enough to mar the reputation built up over years. If a parcel delivery company has achieved 100% on time delivery in a whole year, it still has to begin all over again from the first day of the next year, to maintain the record. Values are like the horizon, they always beckon us to go further.

Crises often reveal latent capacities. When faced with a challenge, great people, organizations and entire societies rise to the occasion. The pressure of the very challenge releases the energy and aspiration and makes one rise to heights one would not reach or even aim for otherwise. A crisis is a compulsion of outer circumstances. Values are what one imposes on oneself.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, imposed the value of elegant design upon himself or accepted it. The company’s phones were not only great in their functionality; he made sure they felt good when held in the hand. The music players were simple and easy to operate. Even the carton that the computer came packed in, which people would throw away, and the design of the printed circuit board inside the computer case that no user would see were made to look good. When his engineers argued that no one would ever see or admire the neat circuit lines, he said a cluttered circuit board was an unfinished product. He was a perfectionist; such a component, regardless of whether it did the job or not, whether anyone would ever see it or not, was unacceptable. He wanted the title bar at the top of the windows and dialog boxes to be beautiful, he wanted the built-in calculator to be pleasing to the eye. At the end, when he was sick and barely able to speak, he had an oxygen monitor put on his finger. He told the doctors that it was too complex, and suggested ways in which it could be designed to be simple and elegant! He set the industry standards, and in some cases, he created the industry itself. Jobs attained perfect perfection when it came to the physical value of the external appearance of his products – good looks, elegant design, ease of use, simplicity. Such a value for perfection took him to the height of not just one, but multiple industries – computer, animation film, music, telephone, tablet computing, retail and digital publishing.

Without waiting for the external circumstances to prod one into action, values make people excel themselves. They form the bedrock of sustainability and resilience – at the individual, organizational, societal and global levels.

3. Physical, Emotional and Mental Values

When Steve Jobs ensured that his company’s phone would fit snugly in the palm, he focused on the value of physical appeal. What Abraham Lincoln valued was the mental ideal of patriotism. Values are of different types, and can be broadly classified into three categories -physical, emotional and mental.

What pertains to the physical plane is plainly visible to the eye. It can be the beautiful appearance of a product, the neatness of a place, the hard work or skill of an individual. The value is a tangible, physical reality, unlike an idea or feeling. The speed of airplanes, the efficiency of computers and the precision of the atomic clock are the physical values that have made these objects successful.

Speed, efficiency, precision and a few more values are rolled into one in the character of Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. In the story, Fogg is a wealthy Englishman who is so methodical, organized and punctual that one can set one’s watch by Fogg’s routine. Every one of his daily tasks is according to a fixed schedule. He wakes up at the same hour every day, and has his bath, the temperature of his bath water being constant all year round. He leaves the house, takes a certain number of steps to reach his club, and has breakfast and lunch at mathematically fixed hours, the menu unvarying from day to day. He never hurries or delays, is economical of his energy and is always on time. One day at the club, his friends discuss a newspaper report that claims that it is possible to go around the world in eighty days. The friends dismiss it as impossible. In 1872, eighty days seemed too short to go around the world! But Fogg, whose life revolves around the clock, does not agree. The newspaper prints a schedule for each leg of the journey, starting from England to Africa, and from there to Asia, America and back. There isn’t a single day for unaccounted delays. But the unexpected does not exist, says Fogg, to whom following schedules is the way of life. He bets his entire fortune on completing the journey in eighty days, and sets off on an adventure that sees delays, dangers and a lot of the unexpected. But through it all, Fogg is collected, organized, and as usual, punctual in the completion of his journey in the said time.

The physical value of punctuality in one’s actions can be measured by the clock. There are other values, such as Lincoln’s love for the country and aspiration of freedom for the slaves that cannot be measured by a tool. These are values of the emotions, intangible, but just as real and powerful. The generosity or goodwill of a friend, the cooperation among employees, the integrity of the seller, the commitment of a company to its customers, the harmony in a family, the empathy for another or the unity in diversity in a country are emotional values that define the individual or group.

‘All for one, one for all’ is the refrain of the musketeers in Alexander Dumas’ French novel The Three Musketeers. Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the original three musketeers, along with their friend D’Artagnan, live and are willing to die by their motto. Their unity, courage, taste for challenge, loyalty to the group and the leader are evident throughout the novel. When the queen entrusts them with the task of getting her diamonds back from the Duke of Buckingham in England, the French Cardinal Richelieu tries to prevent them. He sets up one obstacle after another, and attempts are made to attack the musketeers and kill them. But they are united, brave, and deeply motivated to fight for each other and their queen. They accomplish the task successfully, and all of them go on to reach very high levels in society.

A subtle variant of the value that is non-physical but unemotional is the value of the thinking mind. Accuracy in financial accounting in a company, discipline in an army, the educational level of the population, creativity of an artist, and knowledge or dynamism in individuals are some mental values that contribute to success.

Literature is filled with men and women of values of all types. The prolific English writer Anthony Trollope who has written forty seven novels besides short stories and non-fiction has created hundreds of characters, some of whom exemplify great values. Doctor Thorne, in the book with the same name, is an honest, sincere man who lives with his niece Mary in a small English town. He is not wealthy, but makes a comfortable living. He is trusted by all who know him, and Roger Scatcherd, the wealthy businessman in the town, makes him the executor of his will. By a turn of circumstances, it turns out that Thorne’s niece, Mary, stands to inherit all of Scatcherd’s wealth. The sum is enormous, and its consequences, greater still. It will enable Mary to marry her lover, the local squire’s son, and reverse the square’s family fortunes. But neither title nor fortune interests Thorne. He places people above money, and values even above people. He treats Scatcherd without a thought about the money. Scatcherd’s son is drinking himself to death, and Thorne tries his best to cure the young man of his habit. He not only keeps from talking or doing anything with reference to the money, he is able to even keep from thinking about it. When he fails to save Scatcherd’s son, he sincerely regrets the loss, and gives no thought to his niece’s inheritance. Even when Mary becomes an heiress, the thought of any personal benefit does not cross his mind. So completely immune is he to all mercenary feelings that the fabulously wealthy Lady Dunstable, who is chased by suitors who have an eye on her money, falls in love with him for this very value. He is the only man of her acquaintance who does not value her, or anyone else for their bank balance. She marries him, and the middle-aged bachelor finds unexpected emotional fulfillment as well as great wealth.

There are some values that may be classified under more than one category. Freedom may mean employees in a company can spend part of their time on any project of their choice. In a family, it can translate as imposing less authority and encouraging greater individuality. Freedom in society allows each member to practice any religion or adopt any political ideology. It can be freedom in act, feeling or thought. There are some other values that transcend the physical, emotional and mental, and touch the spiritual-love, faith, goodness, self-giving.

4. Values at the Individual, Societal and Organizational Level

‘The first thing [in credit] is character … before money or anything else,’ said J P Morgan. Individuals like Morgan who have internalized positive values are guided in their every act, decision, word, even thought by these values. These values are often seen raising these people to the peak of their fields. Leonardo da Vinci’s creativity, William Shakespeare’s insight into human nature, Abraham Lincoln’s idealism, Winston Churchill’s courage and Nelson Mandela’s aspiration for equality were the guiding light of their lives, which influenced not only their own future but that of their society, sometimes the whole of humanity as well.

One such individual value was George Washington’s self-restraint. Washington was one of the founding fathers of the US, the man who won the Revolutionary War and led the country to freedom. It needed patriotism, self-sacrifice, leadership qualities and immense courage to wage a war and free the country. But what made him the first president of the independent country was his ability to restrain himself, even under pressing circumstances.

Abraham Lincoln would say later, ‘If you want to test a man’s character, give him power’. Washington had this power. He led the continental army against the British in America, and had all the military power that was to be had. But when he wanted money for his army, he approached the US Congress and waited for its sanction. When he and his soldiers were hungry, cold and ill, he did not demand or take what was desperately needed. He never once overruled the Congress or acted arbitrarily. He sought to establish a democracy in the US, where the military would serve the elected government, and not overrule it. This great self-restraint he expressed under trying conditions, even when his soldiers were starving in the winter, convinced everyone that he was a man they could trust with supreme power. After the country became free of authoritarian foreign rule, the Americans did not want any more authoritarianism, even if it was only domestic. They were even reluctant to forge a central government. Having got rid of a foreign monarch, they did not want another closer to home. Only one who would not misuse power would be acceptable. They had seen that the one man who could be absolutely trusted with power, regardless of the circumstances, was George Washington. So they unanimously elected him the President of America twice. He refused to contest a third time, a practice that has been followed by Presidents in the US ever since.

Today, the American nation is known for the various types of freedom it provides its people. The American value of freedom, Germany’s reputation for engineering precision or the sense of honor among the Japanese are values adopted collectively in society. Values when adopted at the level of society or the whole nation generate enormous power for accomplishment.

When Mahatma Gandhi told the Indians that it was possible to obtain freedom from the British colonists through peaceful means, he was only voicing his strong conviction. His sincerity and idealism drew millions of Indians to follow him. He asked them to give up their British government jobs, boycott British goods and defy the government rules without violence. And 300 million people obeyed him. His commitment to his values was so intense and he was able to inspire the entire society to follow him. A half-naked man, according to the British, Gandhi had no military, political or financial power. But when he called on the Indian people to practice civil disobedience, they responded in millions. His idealism and values of non-violence and self-sacrifice became the values of the entire nation. The strength of these values at the level of the whole society proved greater than the political, military and financial might of the British.

Values lead to unfailing success when coupled with the view of the whole. High achieving companies and other organizations are distinguished by their values. A narrow focus on profits is not the formula for sustained success. Success stories are better known for one or more values instead -BBC’s reliability, Walt Disney Company’s creativity, FedEx’s organization, Apple Computers’ user-friendliness, Volvo Cars’ safety, Walmart’s value for money, Google’s innovation, Wall Street Journal’s expertise, Amazon’s user-friendliness. This is a very incomplete list of successful organizations that follow values, and see profits follow.

This is true even when adopting a high value seems to be detrimental to the annual balance sheet. Northwestern Mutual is a US financial services organization that offers among other products, life insurance. Soon after it was started 150 years ago, there was a train accident in Wisconsin, and the fledgling company received its first two claims amounting to $3,500. The company had only $2,000. So the company’s President and Treasurer personally borrowed the needed funds to pay the claims immediately. Following this, the company saw a rapid increase in sales and expansion into new markets. It was seen that the company would always honor its policy, regardless of its own monetary interests.

Northwestern Mutual came to be one of the most admired in its field. The value of its Founder President is seen in the company even a century and a half later. When a man died of gunshot wounds, the coroner’s investigation found that it was a case of suicide. The man had taken out a Northwestern Mutual life insurance policy, which did not provide coverage in the event of suicidal death. But Northwestern Mutual was not quite satisfied by the coroner’s report and decided to launch an investigation of its own. The company concluded that there was a reasonable doubt about whether it was a case of suicide and paid the full value of the policy to the deceased man’s family!

There was another case where a 32-year-old stockbroker, a married man with children, failed to pay the quarterly premium on his $100,000 life insurance policy with Northwestern Mutual. In spite of repeated reminders from the company, the policy owner allowed his policy to lapse. Six months later the man’s wife phoned the Northwestern Mutual agent who had sold the policy to her husband and informed that her husband had been hospitalized with a brain tumor. The doctors said he had only one or two years to live. She was informed by the agent that the policy had lapsed. Legally, there was nothing more that was necessary or could be done by anyone.

The company’s values permeate into each employee, who is motivated to uphold them. The agent was quite upset. He had done what was officially required of him. But he was not satisfied. He recalled a casual statement of the man’s wife that her husband had been making irrational business decisions for several months, perhaps because of the tumor. The agent referred the matter to the Northwestern Mutual head office, asking if anything could be done. The company agreed to reopen the case for investigation. Months went by, and then one day the policy owner’s wife received a call from the agent. The company had decided that her husband had been disabled by his illness prior to the lapse of the policy and was entitled to a waiver of premiums from that time. The policy was reinstated at no cost! It is no wonder there is a joke about the company, you can recognize a Northwestern Mutual agent by his halo. Apart from this halo, have the company’s high ideals resulted in anything else? Yes, the admiration of people and the corporate analysts and unsurpassed ratings for insurance financial strength from all major rating agencies in the US. And the number one position in individual life insurance in the country.

5. The Power of Values

Values form a part of everyone’s education, starting from infancy. Fables, fairy tales and folk tales are full of them. The thirsty crow that fills the pot with stones to make the water level rise so it can drink the water is a lesson in resourcefulness, the tortoise that plods slowly and steadily and overtakes the sleeping hare is a testimony to the ultimate success of hard work and perseverance. Proverbs and aphorisms do the same. ‘Pride comes before a fall’ and ‘Fortune favors the brave’ contain the essence of profound values in a few words. Religion and philosophy preach them. Motivational speakers, books and movies too deal with them. Values are often seen as what makes one good in a moral sense. But values are not simply ethical or moral issues. They are of practical significance.

If you take any case of sustained success, at any level, in any field, anywhere in the world, in the individual, organization or society, accomplishment has always been accompanied by values. It may be one value to the exclusion of all else, or it may be a number of values, each practiced to different extents. But there has been no case of sustained success in the absence of strong positive values.

Physical skills harness, direct and channel physical energy in a controlled manner to generate precise movements and achieve high performance. Similarly, values harness, direct and channel psychological energy to generate remarkable results in personal and social life.

Values spur us to excel ourselves, where we would have been satisfied otherwise. When we set a high standard for ourselves, we follow it up with action. Values give the sense of direction; they provide the energy for the journey. The quality of the values and the intensity of our commitment to them determine the level of accomplishment. Values translate as consistency at a high level.

6. Integration of Values

"The power that the US enjoys today can be traced to Lincoln’s reconciling and integrating the values of unity and freedom."

It is very rare to see an individual or a group with only a single positive value. When one value is raised, many others are raised in the process. When we decide to practice punctuality, we find that it is necessary to be organized as well. Our things have to be kept in order, so time spent on searching is eliminated. Cleanliness results. We begin prioritizing our tasks better. Our efficiency and productivity improve. What begins as the raising of one value results in overall improvement. When a company decides that it will minimize wastage of every type, it finds new uses for objects it would have otherwise discarded. Creativity is spurred, money is saved. When it minimizes the time spent on tasks, processes become faster and more cost effective. Customers are better pleased. Business improves and greater growth ensues. All values are integrated, such as cleanliness and health; customer relations and prompt service; education and employment; prosperity and communal harmony; women’s education and children’s health; good governance and law & order. When one is adopted, the others follow since they are interlinked. Sometimes, two values that seem mutually exclusive can become powerful allies.

The United States at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency was disunited on the subject of slavery. Lincoln wanted all Americans to be free. After his victory and even before he took office, the southern states that wanted the continuation of slavery declared their secession from the union. It seemed like Lincoln could either keep the nation united, or free the slaves. He could have unity or freedom, but not both.

The American Civil War was waged. Lincoln tried to reconcile two values that seemed contradictory. He also knew the deeper truth, that fundamentally there is no unity without freedom, or vice versa. Lincoln preserved the union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and the United States came into its own. The power that the US enjoys today can be traced to Lincoln’s reconciling and integrating the values of unity and freedom.

7. Value Implementation

A man once picked up his shopping bag and was leaving a store, when the girl at the billing counter said something he did not catch. He asked her to repeat it, and she snapped, ‘I said, have a good day’. She had been trained to say ‘Have a good day’ to each customer as he or she left. She followed it, but how?

The power of values issues from the intensity of our commitment to them and the extent to which they actually influence our mental, emotional and physical behavior. Seen at the individual level, good manners represent a superficial external expression of values, which may not reflect any real inner conviction or commitment. When we mentally endorse a value and are determined to realize it, the value acquires the energy of a mental conviction. When our emotions fully sanction the value and are determined to live by it, the value acquires the power of character. The greater and deeper the acceptance of the value, the more fully it expresses in external acts and the greater the intensity it generates for achievement. Values that build the individual also build the organization, society, and all humanity.

The most powerful corporate values are not the ones that are preached and practiced by top management. They are the ones that penetrate through all the layers of the organization down to the bottom, where they are implicitly followed, often unconsciously. Implementation of the values in an organization involves a multi-stage process of defining, communicating and measuring performance on the value, assigning responsibility for it at different levels of the organization, developing systems for monitoring and feedback, and imparting the required knowledge, skill and attitudes to people. The implementation of the value of safety at the DuPont chemical company illustrates all these stages of value implementation.

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont immigrated to America from France in 1790 and established a gunpowder mill. He started a safety tradition at his mill that has long outlived its founder or the mill and become a core value of the company. He designed his first powder mills to minimize the danger in the event of an explosion. He tested new gunpowder formulations himself before permitting other employees to handle them. He established a rule that no employee was allowed to enter a new mill until he or his general manager had first operated it safely. But more than all these precautions, he demonstrated his commitment to safety by living with his family on the plant site beside the mills along with his employees.

Nearly two hundred years later, in 1985, DuPont’s safety record was truly impressive. Its workdays-lost rate (related to accidents) in the United States was 69 times better than the average for all U.S. industry and 17 times better than the average for the U.S. chemicals industry. In 2013, one DuPont site at Towanda, Pennsylvania celebrated 40 consecutive years without an event-related, lost workday case. The plant population has varied from 500 to 1,000 employees, and put in 57 million hours of work! Another plant at Stow, Ohio set a workplace safety record in 2007 with 60 years without a lost workday case.

How does DuPont do it? It begins by converting the corporate value of safety into an explicit objective—zero accidents. This objective is based on the belief that all accidents are preventable. At DuPont safety is a line management responsibility. All managers, from the chairman of the board to the supervisors who manage groups of workers in plants or offices around the world, are responsible for safety in their departments. If an injury occurs in any DuPont plant, it is reported to world headquarters within 24 hours. If a death occurs, it is reported to the chairman. At DuPont the CEO is also the Chief Safety Officer, and at all executive committee meetings, safety is first on the agenda.

The same importance is given to safety by plant managers. Every plant defines standards, sets goals, designs a safety program, and conducts regular safety audits. Training is a key element. The first thing taught in every training program is safety. Studies have shown that safety performance is proportionate to the level of training of the workforce, so training is continued as an ongoing activity. More impressive than all these things is the fact that all supervisors in DuPont facilities must review one safety feature every single day with each of their subordinates. Every sales and administrative department also conducts regular safety meetings. An open file drawer in a DuPont office is considered a safety hazard and attracts immediate attention.

There is also a specific set of safety-related rules. Wearing seat belts in company vehicles while on work-related business travel is mandatory. Defensive-driving courses are given to employees who travel for the job by car. When one traveling employee in Florida was identified by his manager as a problem driver, an outside driving expert was flown in the next day to give him special instruction.

Safety is the responsibility of every employee at DuPont, not just managers. Rules are enforced by discipline, and violations are a serious matter. All employees know that the fastest and surest route to getting fired is to repeatedly violate safety rules and procedures. The company tries to positively involve workers in the safety program.

"Values form the bedrock of free, prosperous resilient societies."

Safety at DuPont does not end at 5 P.M. There are off-the-job safety programs, too. The company has managed to reduce off-the-job accidents and raise the number of employees wearing seat belts during non-work hours. Even visitors who drive out of a DuPont parking lot may have the guard asking them to buckle up. Not only is implementation done through formal systems and procedures but the value has become so fully institutionalized that it is a custom or culture of the company. As a value becomes more institutionalized, the formal structures for implementation fade out of use.

DuPont’s obsession with safety more than justifies the cost. It has saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars, won the loyalty of its employees, and earned it the best reputation in the chemicals industry. Safety is an outstanding human relations tool. It shows concern for people. It pays in the protection of the skills that they have built up and in the elimination of suffering. It pays in the reduction of workers’ compensation and maintenance rates and in the loss of property. A manager who manages safety well manages quality, production and costs well, too. The technique that one learns in managing safety applies to any parameter. There is a tremendous payback, and the biggest payback is in the efficiency of management.

Striving for high values is not a luxury for the successful, it is a way to become successful.

8. How do Values evolve over time?

High idealistic values are as ancient as humanity itself. But over time the application and implementation of those values have changed enormously. Values once applied to intimate family and local communities have gradually been extended to the community, caste, class, nation and beyond to encompass all of humanity. At one time the value of the individual was narrowly limited to the divine right of kings. The lofty values of freedom and equality enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence were formulated by many eminent individuals who either owned or condoned slavery. At the time it was drafted, the proclamation that “all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights” was not applied to women or blacks. The founding fathers of the US who signed the Declaration of Independence were not insincere in their declaration, but their commitment was limited and very narrowly defined. Slavery was only abolished in 1865. Women obtained the right to vote only in 1922. It took a long Civil War and two centuries of further social evolution for these lofty principles of freedom and equality to be extended in law and partially in practice to all Americans regardless of race, religion or gender. Values permeate gradually. That is the process of social development.

Gradually, the application of values is being extended more broadly and comprehensively. The rights of citizens in most countries were never intended to protect foreigners or even non-citizens. Religions often applied values only to members of their own sect and denied them to “non-believers”.

The “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” adopted in 1948 marks a new and greater stage in the social evolution of humanity in which the notion that values must be uniformly applied universally to all humanity has been accepted in principle even though we are a long way from doing so in practice. Slavery, religious persecution, apartheid, holocaust and untouchability are some ideas that appall us today. Caste system, fundamentalism, human trafficking, corruption and many such negative elements in the world today will similarly become part of our past someday.

Values and social organization evolve hand in hand. Values energize and elevate the organization. The organization disseminates and reinforces the values. The extension of values requires the evolution of legal, political, social and cultural institutions capable of giving expression to the values, of enforcing adherence and inculcating them in its members.

9. Conclusion

As societies evolve, so do values. Stated otherwise, society evolves in the measure it adopts and extends in practice high values to its members and expresses them in its relationships with other societies. Society is not built on any physical structure. It is built on values. A relationship or an organization without values becomes an oppression. It is values that decide whether an organization stifles growth, freedom and individuality, or fosters them, whether it is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Values represent the subtle psychological infrastructure on which cohesive, sustainable, resilient societies are founded. So, if we need a global society, we need universal values. Values form the bedrock of free, prosperous resilient societies.

About the Author(s)

Janani Harish

Research Associate, The Mother's Service Society Pondicherry, India; Assistant Editor of the CADMUS Journal