Introduction. Values are the guiding principles that people use to give direction to their daily lives and behaviors. It varies from culture to culture as it is the distinguishing factor, which gives judgment and perspective to between what is good or bad, what is considered beautiful or not, and all other spectrums in life. Values, shaped by one’s culture is what influences varying personalities, and helps people to function in accordance with the unwritten principles of society. Issues that tend to be guided mostly by one’s values are relationships, both sexual and personal, gender identity, social class and race, and morality.
The sociologist Robin Williams believes that most of the games children play are a depiction of Americans core values. Typically the same rules apply to every participant in the game (equality), and competition, achievement and success are the main aim of most games (Achievement and success). Games also encourages children to be prosperous and affluent, the world renowned monopoly does this well as it focuses on material comfort and wealth (Material comfort). Monopoly also highlights the value of free enterprise (Democracy and enterprise), the stealing of bases in the popular American game baseball allows children to be creative, and also depicts freedom and individualism (Freedom).
Finally, the superiority of various groups is demonstrated through the numerous team competitions that parents encourage their children to participate in. While the popular game of tag fosters racism against whoever it declared ‘it’ (Racism and group superiority). There are many more games that could depict the remaining core values and many of society’s moral principles, as games are numerous and varying. Parents and teachers in trying to teach value and morals to children can turn to many games and sporting activities to aid in these lessons.
American Core Values. Is a group of ideal, principles and laws that is the root of American Culture, with the expectation that all citizens will live by these values, which include:
- Equality, which refers to the people’s view of what is fair and that the same rules apply to everyone.
- Achievement and success in both personal and professional lives of the people as it relates to competitiveness, success and work ethics.
- Material comfort refers to hoe individuals try to improve their standard of living and comfort by increasing their, wealth, net worth.
- Activity and work, speaks to American passion for sporting activities and always keeping busy.
- Practicality and efficiency is noticeable in their informal attitude, and the cost effective manner in which the solve problems.
- Progress is evident in their ability and efforts of consistently improving their society generation after generation.
- Democracy and enterprise, Americans live by democratic principles, which allows them to pursue innovations of a personal or business nature that government cannot override.
- Individualism, allows the freedom of growth and expression of personality, and is the backbome of American culture,
- Freedom enables them to make individual initiatives.
- Racism and group superiority speaks to how well persons are in accordance with the principles of various social groups based on their race, social class, ethnicity and gender.
Equality. enables individuals to have equal access to educational and professional opportunities, which means all Americans are given considerations that are fair and unbiased for various opportunities. Equal opportunity is a necessity as it prevents discrimination and promotes divert n the American Society. Achieving complete equality is still unfulfilled but has made great strides. The problems preventing complete equality in today’s America are misperceptions and discrimination. There is still a great deal of ethic and gender discrimination as many women are paid less than men in similar capacities, and Latinos and African American men earn less than many white men in same or similar post.
These disparities will continue to remain because there is a belief among a large number of Americans that the various ethnic groups are on par with whites as it relates to schooling, jobs, health care and incomes. But according to a national survey by The Washington Post conducted in 2001 it is definitely not as white Americans believe, even though black nationals have narrowed the gap they are still not on par. An additional problem Americans face in fulfilling equality is that some people are better placed to take advantage of opportunities. Meaning are opportunities available but depending on one’s location or financial capabilities some people will be able to take advantage of the available opportunity and others won’t.
Achievement and Success. Americans have great pride in their capabilities to work hard and make sacrifices, and doing things by themselves to achieve success in all their endeavors. The American dream propels them forward in every obstacle as they work to climb the ladder of success. Some might have it easier than others depending on the opportunities being offered, but in this 21st century Americans still believe in the ideals of ‘the self-made man or woman’. Americans are very competitive by nature as they believe competition brings the best in people, and this belief is a driving force on the road to success. However, there are many problems that Americans face in fulfilling their ideas of success and achievement.
One such problem is the achievement gap in schools, where students from low income households are not achieving at the same levels as students from the more affluent families. If the disparity in educational achievement continues, it will lead to increases in poverty, which leads to a rise in crime and incarceration. As well as the inevitable reduction in productivity and standard of living. Another barrier to success is a decline in work ethic, which is as a result of parents focusing too much on building self-esteem in their children has created the current me-centric generation of workers that employers describe as disengaged, unmotivated, and disloyal. Another notable problem is the greed and covetousness of this generation, as they work only to fulfill materialistic desires which delays the achievement of more meaningful goals. Finally, the advances in technology are diminishing the traditional routes of learning about important work concepts that aid in achievement and success.
Material comfort. The vast majority of Americans are seen as materialistic, even though many believe their material positions are rewards for working hard. Innovation and newness is greatly appreciated by Americans, which means they change material possessions frequently to acquire the more modern versions. Therefore cars, tools and appliances, and other technological gadgets are kept for only short periods. In today’s society people are willing to work long hours in an effort to acquire all their materialistic desires but for many work-life balance is posing a major problem. There are individuals who have managed to strike a reasonable balance in their life but many fail to do. Thereby scarifying family time, traditions and building relations to acquire material comfort, which in the end leaves them lonely and eventually unhappy.
Activity and work. Americans believe time spent on leisure activities and relaxation should be limited to small portions. And any time spent on recreation should be able to increase their ability to work harder and be more productive. They tend to have very active days that are extremely detailed with planned routines and schedules. Even when they do make time for recreation and vacation it has to be planned and keeps then very busy and active. Regardless of the many benefits of an active lifestyle, statistics reveal that approximately thirty percent of Americans get regular physical activity during leisure time. Here in lies the problems of fulfilling an active lifestyle because Americans are sticklers for time, they try to accomplish much in any given day. They are busy most of the time but with the advances in technology many Americans busy lifestyle is sedentary, mainly around a desk.
Physical activities and or exercise if done regularly and routinely has many benefits for the body. The opposite sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of various chronic diseases and obesity. The hindrances Americans face in fulfilling their active lifestyle are injuries, time, as it is a great challenge for Americans to set aside time to exercise because of work-life obligations. Self-confidence, relates to how Americans feel self-conscious about their bodies as a result of leading an inactive life. And boredom, is also a problem because many Americans will start an exercise regime or have other physical activity routines but naturally grow weary of doing the same thing repeatedly, which causes them to get bored and eventually quit. On the other hand some Americans are their own obstacles are many are just lazy to get up and move.
Practicality and efficiency. Practicality speaks to being useful and effective in situations by actually doing something to bring about a solution rather than suggesting ideas. For this reason there is great appreciation for the technical abilities of Americans who seem to constantly be in search of ways to do things better than before. Americans attraction to practicality instead of intellectuality sheds light on their interest in the performance of products, features such as durability, speed, and safety. These interest and ideals emphasizes the American economic system of mass production and consumption. Efficiency, which is embedded in the American culture explains Americans approach to business, and other expenditure.
Americans habit of getting to the point is mainly viewed as being rude and in some culture aggressive, but in the United States time is a commodity no one wants to waste. Therefore, Americans are grounded in the belief of solving problems in a practical and efficient manner. However, many Americans face to be practical and efficient for simple reasons, such as procrastinating, a practical person hardly waste time. And not having clear goals, when practical individuals have clearly outlined goals that they work to accomplish. Another problem preventing Americans from being practical individuals is low self-esteem, practical people tend to face their problems head on in an effort to solve them. They are not afraid to face their problems, and test their self-worth, or allow fear of failing to stop them.
Progress. Change in the minds of Americans is an unquestionable good thing because it is the belief of many Americans that with change the society will advance and improve bringing about progress and growth. Tradition and stability are highly valued in many cultures but for Americans they are of value but progression hold more regard than tradition. Americans, no matter how happy they are in the present are always hopeful that the future will bring even greater happiness. For this reason most of their energy and efforts, as well as the belief that competitiveness will drive rapid progress, are directed towards the realization of a better future. Nonetheless, there are Americans who are not able to latch on to the train of progress for various reasons. Firstly, the increase in US unemployment is a huge social and economic issue because if Americans are not working, this will give way to social unrest and a decrease in GDP. Secondly, taxation on incomes is also retarding progress for the more vulnerable Americans. Investment income currently is taxed at a lower rate than regular income, which means those who get their incomes from dividends and other investments (millionaires) pay lower tax than those earning much lower income (poor, lower class, middle class).
Thirdly, the state of American health is under siege from chronic diseases and an aging population. Americans are turning to food sources that are more affordable and convenient but are not very nourishing to the body. Because many persons are unemployed, many are working longer hours, which means they have little time to prepare healthy meals, and also getting heavily taxed incomes. Have turned to cheaper foods that are ready prepared already or easily prepared and these foods and the lack of activity have contributed to the current epidemic of obesity that is plaguing America. Obesity leads to various conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, these along with the aging population cause from people having less children and being more materialistic have put a cloud of doom over many Americans who are trying to be progressive.
Democracy and enterprise. Fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles are the core democratic values Core democratic values that unite Americans. The Declaration of Independence, The constitution and other official papers of great significance such as speeches and letters to the nation express these core democratic values. The rights to life and the “Pursuit of happiness”, and the right to liberty, which speaks to personal, political and economic freedom are the beliefs that Americans stand firmly behind as they foster democracy and enterprise generation after generation. As in all the core values mentioned before, there are problems in fulfilling the core value of democracy and enterprise.
The main problems people face in fulfilling democracy and enterprise in the fact that they take freedom for granted or they abuse their freedom. Meaning they have no appreciation for the privilege they have to live free and make their own choices or to participate in the progression of the country. An excessive drive for material comforts let them lose sight of the big goals, and their pursuit of happiness. Additionally, Americans are not utilizing the right to vote, which allows them to influence change in the society. Therefore, Americans are not fulfilling democratic values by underutilizing their liberties and focusing too much on material acquisition, which is retarding their natural abilities in creating enterprise and enacting change for a better future.
Individualism. In the latter part of the 15th century, around the time of the Renaissance, individualism developed in the western world. In present day United States individualism has multiplied three folds as each person is believed to be unique and is seen as completely and marvelously different from any other. Therefore each person is precious and has his own wonderful traits to impact society. Americans tend to join many groups that share their similarities but still believe each person is a little unique from each other. Individualism in America means there is a great variety of opinions for all topics, and the freedom to express. The problem in fulfilling individualism is that many people don’t really know who they are as a person, they tend to adopt various characteristics from different groups and succumb to peer pressure easily. Another hindrance is the fact that many functionalities of society expect people to sacrifice their self-interest for the greater good or purpose.
Freedom. Americans core values are centered on their freedom or their liberty, which a personal, political and economic freedom that cannot be infringed on by government and others. Freedom ensures that Americans are able to express their opinions and ideas about no matter what, and they should delight in their freedom and every right possible. Americans are free to ask their government to do or refrain from anything without repercussions, not many countries allow such freedom. Americans freedoms are vast from the freedom to travel anywhere in the nation to joining a political party and everything in between.
The problems Americans face in utilizing their many freedoms are statistical improbability, threatening environments, and ignorance of opportunity. Firstly, enough opportunities are not made available to make many American freedoms realistic, for example, everyone in free to own a business but in reality it is highly improbably as most persons can’t afford to or not possess creative enterprise abilities. Secondly, people no longer have a strong sense of safety because of the increase in crime, pollution, abuse and many other dangers, which means people are not truly ‘free’ to enjoy life.
Racism and group superiority. Americans are believed to be naturally racist about general biological categories such as race, sexuality, gender and social class. And cultural categories such as religion, nationality and political affiliation. These racist beliefs lead to prejudice and discrimination of various groups as a result of ignorance and fear. Because one group feels threatened by the perceived loss off power to another group will exercise economic, social and even political influence in an effort to retain privilege and social advantage. Both racism and group superiority are cultural and structural means of defending power. And this gives way for the differential and unequal treatment of people by deliberately structuring privileges in a manner that gives social advantages over resources, especially scarce resources that results in a belief system of supremacy.
Therefore racism and group supremacy is the way Americans defend whatever advantages they might have as it relates to power, opportunity/privilege and prestige/reputation. Americans have difficulties in identifying which group they belong to and many times move to and from various groups in an effort to find where they belong. Hence the main problem Americans face in fulfilling group superiority is the issue of identity. Many persons have difficulty developing a sense of self as they grow and mature into adults. Individuals need good self-conception in order to determine or make identifications from as narrow as their role in their family to as broad as man or woman, Christian or Muslim. Self-identity needs to be clear and decisive in finding the group that is the best fit for any person to explore their superiority.
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