According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a value is, “Something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.”
In society, through everyday situations, people find their own individual values cause them to do certain things and even shape who they are.
For example, someone might value social class because they feel alone and want to be liked, so, as an effect, this idea of social class impacts what they will do or even who they will become.
As sophomore Kyley Williams, on West’s debate team said,“The United States values more… they value social class a lot more and… materialistic things,” and in turn, according to Kyley, this affects how grateful we are as a country.
Just as values shape an individual, it can also shape a country and continues to shape America even now, as proven by some of the students and teachers here at West. An example of this is society’s love of social media, it not only affects how people are getting their news but also how they are comparing themselves to others.
“This generation, we’re brought up on social media… That’s how we get our news and stuff like that, and even our President is on social media. So… I think social media has a big part of how information is brought in and how everything is happening and communication,” said senior Philip Brooks, who plays football here at West.
Williams explained that comparing is another thing that is caused by America’s value of social media. She theorizes that this is because nowadays, social media paints unrealistically perfect pictures that people relate themselves to.
“I think that our media sets a standard that none of us can really achieve. I believe that a lot of it’s quote on quote “photoshopped” not just pictures but just lives are idolized when they shouldn’t be,” she said.
No doubt, values do impact the world, but in what ways does the world pick it’s values? What values should Americans choose? And how do those values alter the country’s future? Well, in Mrs. Ronda Ireland’s perspective, one thing Americans should value more is they’re freedoms.
“People do not often pay attention to the freedoms that we have, or really appreciate it until it gets taken away from certain segments of our society… I wish we could have that same sense of nationalism, that same sense of pride all the time,” the history teacher said.
Williams, however has a different opinion, thinking that American’s tend to flaunt their freedoms and have an arrogant attitude opposed to other countries.
“I think that a lot of us value that we are a free country and that we do have… more opportunities than more developing countries… We think that everything in the rest of the world is under our control because we are so privileged,” Williams said.
Compared to freshman Felicia Soerensen’s home country, Denmark, she thinks America is indeed very nationalistic.“Here you’re very nationalistic I would say…. like I wouldn’t know how to sing the Danish national anthem ever, I’ve heard it maybe once or twice,” she said.
So basically the values America chooses as a country does affect the America, but in what ways affects America can be debated.
Another thing that should be valued by the community, in William’s opinion, is thankfulness, as it makes people more content with life. “I think society should value what we already have in life, instead of focusing on what we could have, I think we should be focusing more on what we’re already given,” explained Williams.
And, because of valuing materialistic things and focusing on the wrong standards, Mrs. Ireland concludes that other countries view America as “shallow”. She thinks that when foreigners come, they are able to compare the freedoms of the United States and value them more than even Americans might.
“I think that a lot of times we’re viewed as shallow because of that materialism and because of being focused on beauty and how much we can own and the glitz and glam of our society. Whereas when people get to travel here and stay here, I think they fall in love with our country because they realize the freedoms that we do get to enjoy,” Ireland said.
For this reason, it can be inferred that America is perceived through some of her values which may, from student’s and teacher’s observations, include ungratefulness and nationalism.
Lastly, another thing that can be confused with valuing is idolizing. Idolization is defined by, “(The act of ) regarding with blind adoration, devotion,” translated by dictionary.com.
But what is the difference between idolizing something and valuing something? And should we idolize our values?
“Whatever they idolize becomes the main purpose of their life,” Williams said.
Idolizing and valuing are both things that push people to take action, but idolization is something to a much more extreme level, as described by Kyley.
And from that, it can be inferred that idols drive people to become obsessive, whereas values are things that drive people to fill their quote on quote “desire.”
What defines the boundaries of values? Is there a point where a value can turn into an idol and an idol into an obsession?