What ARE Traditional Values, Anyway?

First, Let’s Dispel the Prohibition on Such Questions

Tradition, in this context, gets short shrift, but mainly from people who don’t know what it is. Modernists dismiss it cynically as superficial or hypocritical. Traditionalists misrepresent it as including pet biases, political preferences, and religious peculiarities. What is dismissed necessarily exists, and what is misunderstood has at least at one time been understood. So what is meant by traditional values?

The meaning of work is something we can all learn and know.

Next: The List — What Are Traditional Values?

  • Know your duty, and do your duty.
  • Keep your word and don’t lie. Your yes is yes, no is no. Your word counts.
  • Don’t cheat or expect something for nothing. Deal fairly.
  • Don’t steal or take more than your share. Pay what you owe.
  • Be aware of other people; it’s the basis of courtesy.
  • Courtesy and respect for elders are the default positions.
  • Pick up after yourself, and respect others’ space and property.
  • Keep others’ confidences and respect their privacy.
  • Don’t add to others’ burdens or intentionally inconvenience them.
  • Exercise discretion. Don’t slander and don’t gossip.
  • Be sincere. Don’t be proud or put on airs.
  • Honor another person’s loved ones and family.
  • Do right by those who depend on you.
  • Defend and protect those at disadvantage or weaker than yourself.
  • Keep your speech and your heart clean and civil.
  • Be moderate in all indulgences of body, senses, or mind.
  • Don’t shirk or flinch from hard work, and pay an honest wage.
  • Learn your whole life and respect scholarship in others.
  • Do your civic duty and fulfill community obligations.
  • Participate in the defense of your home when called upon to serve.
  • Learn honor and integrity. It’s all these things.
  • If you fail, morally or otherwise, resolve to do better.

Briefly: Let’s Repel the Simplest Flack

The hypocrisy argument: “But people who espoused these standards, frequently didn’t adhere to them.” Agreed. A sports team values winning, but doesn’t always do it. They try, you say? Yes. So the argument is reduced to “not everyone tries”. Again, agreed. And when people don’t even try to uphold these values, they don’t hold the values. It’s not about failure to adhere, it’s about not committing to them in the first place. And when that’s the case, the general reaction of those who do is sorrow or disgust. In other words, the exceptions prove the rule. Albeit, when someone holds many or most of the values excepting one or two, the tradition is still upheld, but the understanding of the individual is incomplete.

“Slander not.” (Babylonian. Hymn to Samas.)

Closing Thoughts and a Definition

I’ve mainly wanted to document, as a point of reference, what is meant by “traditional values”—partly to clarify my own thinking and largely because the rhetoric around ‘values’ by presumed adherents and skeptics alike is so fraught. When someone argues we can’t have traditional values while having gays and immigrants live among us, they’re demonstrating either confusion or an ignorance of those values, as though they are synonymous with whatever is merely familiar or common to a person or community. Alternately, they’re engaged in an unprinicipled hijacking of the concept for ideological and rhetorical misapplication. We’ll assume confusion or ignorance out of charity. When someone scorns or dismisses traditional values as unnecessary or indefinable they are demonstrating the same thing. In short, both are incorrect, and there is actually consensus about what the values are.

“The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour.” — The Abolition of Man



Daniel DiGriz is a digital ecologist® who tells brand stories. This profile is not yet rated. Parental discretion. Views do not reflect, etc.

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Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a digital ecologist® who tells brand stories. This profile is not yet rated. Parental discretion. Views do not reflect, etc.