Essay On Core American Values
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The core American values are the standards by which all Americans use to distinguish what is desirable and what is not. These values are therefore judgments which are based on a cultural viewpoint. It is these values that are responsible for molding our personalities as well as our behavior. In the year 1970, Robin M. Williams, an American sociologist, identified ten American values that he believed were the most important. Out of these ten, I believe that the most important ones of the ten include Equal opportunity, progress, freedom, material comfort and finally democracy and enterprise.
Equal opportunity involves what we perceive to be fair as well as having the same rules for everyone. Although this concept is generally accepted all over America, it is usually simply an ideal rather than a reality. Equal opportunity calls for similar treatment for all individuals regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. In other words, some aspects of a person should be irrelevant in the performance of their role in society. This is very important since the equality has always been a central theme in America since the founding of the country.
Progress on the other had refers to the efforts we make in order to achieve improvements to our society and establish the attitude that ‘today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better. This essentially means that change is unavoidable in America. Progress is always good and eventually leads to success; this is a core value which should be embraced for the sake of the advancement of the entire country. Failure to do so will mean that America will fall behind other countries in regards to various aspects of development.
Freedom is a core American value which is refers to the preference of individual initiative compared to collective conformity. This is a condition where all citizens have the opportunity to speak, behave and pursue their own individual happiness without any restrictions that are unnecessary. This concept is of particular importance since it allows for the development of expressions of original ideas and creativity and ultimately increased productivity as well as total quality of life. It is for this reason that the Bill of Rights is enshrined in the United States constitution. Some of the freedoms that are protected by this bill include the freedoms of speech, religion, petitioning the government and peaceable assembly.
The pursuit of wealth and in order to achieve material comfort is another core American value. All American generations have consistently tried to improve their relative comfort by pursuing more wealth. For this to happen, America has put in place a system which allows for all individuals to pursue material comfort. This system is mainly based on the provision of jobs for all citizens. In addition to this, legislation has also been put in place to protect all individuals’ wealth from potential loss particularly through theft. Because of this America is referred to as the land of opportunity since material comfort is in abundance and is in most cases dependent on an individual’s work ethic.
Lastly, the core American value Democracy and Enterprise as identified by Robin Williams refers to the rights of all individuals to seek personal and business enterprises that are free of government intervention. This is particularly key to America since this concept encourages the growth of trade and business entities. Essentially, this concept allows for the markets to grow since they are controlled by the invisible hand of demand and supply. This ensures that even big companies do not have undue advantage over relatively small companies since they are not favored by the government and the forces of demand and supply are autonomous.
One of the core American values that is not discussed by either Kendall or Williams is that of volunteerism. This is the related to the equality concept and is essentially based on the belief and want to help other individuals. One of the main components of this value is philanthropy where individuals who possess more than others share some of their wealth with the less fortunate because it is the right thing to do. This American value calls for a collective way of thinking while approaching various issues in society particularly in achieving a semblance of equality economically. Volunteers are individuals who make a personal choice to share their time, wealth, talents and energy to help other individuals who are in need. America is famous for successfully incorporating this value in its way of life, particularly through the principle of association. Today, there are numerous nonprofit organizations that are driven by this value of volunteerism.
All of these values can be revealed from the games that people play. For instance, the simple game of monopoly encourages the ideologies of pursuing wealth, material comfort, as well as free enterprise. Computer games also provide an insight into the cultural values of progress which are derived from the different levels of play. All in all, these values are beneficial to America as a whole and should be preserved.
Brym, Robert J, and John Lie. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World, the Brief Edition. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Halamandaris, W. The Heart of America: Ten Core Values That Make Our Country Great. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2004. Print.
Kendall, Diana E. Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011. Print.