The judgment of values is a vital element that affects the security, comfort and happiness of each individual. It is distinctly an individual process although it is often affected by mass psychology and by advice given by others. In its simpler state it represents a judgment of the individual as to what would be best for him, not only temporarily but permanently.
Regardless of the amount of thought and consideration given to the desirability of any course of action, or the acquiring of any material thing, there must necessarily be a desire for a definite result or a definite possession in order to lend value to the result or the object to the individual. There is an old saying that “The Value of an object is in the eyes of the beholder.” It might also be said that the value of a future result is in the viewpoint of the individual.
There are many different sets of values upon which we are necessarily impelled to exercise judgment. here is a negative judgment that is oftentimes far more influential than positive judgment. It is the attitude of lack of interest, not caring, not feeling that action or judgment is worth while. This particular attitude is expressed very prominently by the large number of individuals who fail to take advantage of their political franchise. Our forefathers fought and died in order to establish a government of the people, which, expressed tersely, means the right to vote. In spite of this fact a very large proportion of those eligible to vote fail to do so, feeling that it is not worth the effort. These same individuals would be those who would complain most vociferously if the privilege were taken away and many of them would probably be glad to give up their lives to restore it. Therefore, it can readily be seen that the things which we feel are securely possessed are regarded more in the form of a permanent value to be accepted casually, but are accepted as of slight immediate and temporary value because we have become so accustomed to them.
This attitude is essentially that of the man who is sound of body and limb and yet cannot rejoice over this fact and appreciate its value until he is confronted with loss of health or deprived of the use of one of his limbs. Sometimes there is a fleeting recognition of our good fortune in this respect when we see others who are hopelessly crippled or critically ill. In general, however, the very things which are actually of the greatest value are passed over lightly or not considered at all. The healthy functioning of the five senses, lack of disablement, good health, and a sound mind are accepted as a matter of course, but the still greater liberty. that we enjoy of being able to decide for ourselves upon questions that affect our own welfare and our honor, are often regarded lightly because we have become so used to these privileges.
Another set of values pertains to knowledge that we have the opportunity to acquire. There are so many branches of activity in this particular field that it is impossible to speak of each one separately. In the business and social world we gain experience and knowledge by first hand observation and personal activities. In the schools and colleges and in the general field of literature and of the news, we learn of other individuals and groups and their activities, accomplishments and experience, covering both the past and the present. In the field of science there are constantly being developed new activities of approach to the acquisition of still further knowledge and experience. The same may be said for the field of government and politics.
Social welfare is gradually coming to the front as a separate field in itself. In this connection we are not speaking merely of services to the poor and the unfortunate, but we are referring to the whole aspect of human relations. In this particular field it may be said that we are groping rather blindly, a rather large portion of the people endeavoring to grasp a desirable result in its completed form, without having worked to bring about the result and even without having given any particular intelligent consideration to the method of producing the desired result.
In the early days of machinery the ultimate judgment was decided, not upon the basis of the beauty of the machine, the cost of installation or upon any other feature of the particular machine, but upon its ability to produce a result. The main question was “Will it work?” This should be the question asked in regard to contemplated activities which are supposed to be for the welfare of the people. There are too many individuals at the present time who are anxious to experiment on the whole nation without first having tried out their particular formulas upon a small scale. Their contention is that it is impossible to try out certain things within the individual states and therefore such experiments must necessarily be national in scope. Here particularly is an example of misjudging values.
There are economic values that pertain to individual states, but there are also political, social and racial values that are extremely different in many of the states. There are relative degrees of state pride and of independence. To contend, therefore, that it is easier to experiment upon an entire nation composed of such diversified elements, rather than upon two or three individual states, which are comparatively unified in themselves, is to condemn the whole general theory of experimentation. If the experimenters have nothing better to offer than to make the entire nation a laboratory then it would be far better to remain as we are until a sounder system is established for finding out what the consequences of certain activities will actually be.
In our judgment of values in regard to things material, this can only be made progressive and substantial by acquiring further knowledge, discrimination and common sense. Each individual has certain tastes and inclinations which make some things more, or less, valuable to himself than to the majority of other individuals. This is as it should be. It would be rather unfortunate if we all wanted just exactly the same particular things.
In general, however, it can be said that the average man, in fact every man living, desires certain things regardless of his social standing, his business status or his age.
These things are:
- First, sufficient food, clothing and shelter to be comfortable.
- Second, a sufficient income for the actual needs of himself and his family.
- Third, the right to choose his occupation, his place of business and his residence.
- Fourth, freedom from interference with his religion, his right of free speech and
his ability to reach the ear of authority.
- Fifth, political freedom to wage a fair and square political battle against his
opponents, with neither party having special privileges.
- Sixth, entire absence of interference with his freedom of movement, with his
method of conducting business, or with any of his personal activities,
except such as might be harmful to others.
All of these objectives are desirable but the methods by which they are to be obtained should also be desirable, otherwise results will never be beneficial.
It is very important to remember that if we do evil in order to bring about a good result that the result will also be evil in its effect upon us. There is no method in a country such as our own to bring about changes that are for the benefit of society merely through the making of laws by a few individuals who happen to be in power. Such benefits can only come when the nation, by a large majority, concurs in and favors not only the result to be obtained but the methods by which such attainment shall be made possible. This must not only be true, but it also is important and vital that the minority be not actively against the methods that are to be pursued.
It is unfortunate that the question of public welfare has attached itself to the two great political parties. Public welfare should be bettered by careful, painstaking and scientific research which would actually reveal the consequences of a certain course of action and which would prove whether the result to be obtained could be accomplished by the suggested action.
In conclusion there are many other values which should always be maintained. The values of ideals and principles must always come first, but we have also the values of our loved ones, our friends and associates, our business companions and our social acquaintances. If we would only learn to use our judgment of values based entirely upon the method to be used in securing a result, and the honor, stability of character and common sense of the method, rather than the result itself; and if we would also learn to judge the value of our friends and fellow citizens by the same standards of honor, character, common sense and their methods and manner, then we would not be at all disappointed in the result that we achieved from our activities, or the happiness that we receive from merely living in the world with the kind of friends and fellow citizens with which we have enriched our own lives; and incidentally made ourselves better and stronger individuals, and we would have brought something worth while into the lives of other individuals and into that of the nation.
H. B. MONJAR – July, 1936