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We live in a world where people are expected to know right from wrong. While different cultures have various standards of what is acceptable behavior, some ideals cross borders.
The importance of family is one common thing that most cultures around the world hold dear. However, there are many moral values that all people should learn to create a more harmonious society.
Throughout my life and world travels, I’ve come to believe that there are certain moral values that all people should learn, regardless of where they live. No matter how important individualism may be, morals help us interact properly and can keep our families and societies together.
What are Moral Values?
Moral values are the standards of good and evil, which govern an individual’s behavior and choices. They help us decide what is right and wrong, and they motivate us to do the right thing.
Why are Moral Values Important?
Moral values are important because they help us to make the right choices in life. They also teach us how to treat other people with respect and how to behave in a way that is acceptable in society.
Moral values are also important because they help us to develop a strong sense of right and wrong. They can also help us to develop empathy for others and to understand the consequences of our actions.
Are Moral Values Learned or Innate?
Most people believe that moral values are learned. This means that they are not something that we are born with, but something that we acquire through our experiences and interactions with others. From childhood, we learn how to share, how to be truthful, and how to care for others.
As we grow older, we continue to learn new moral values from our families, our friends, and our wider community. We also learn about moral values through the media, such as television, books, and films.
Some people, however, believe that moral values are innate. This means that they are something that we are born with and that we do not need to learn them. Instead, our moral values are determined by our genes or our biology.
While there is no definitive answer to the question of whether moral values are learned or innate, most experts believe that they are primarily learned. This means that our experiences and interactions with others play a significant role in shaping our moral values.
Regardless as to where you stand on this issue, there are at least 21 moral values we believe that everyone should learn in order to be their best self and contribute to society in a productive way.
21 Moral Values All People Should Learn
Honesty is one of the most important moral values. It means being truthful and fair in all your dealings with other people. Honesty also includes being willing to admit when you have made a mistake. Failure to own up to a mistake may end up costing someone else big time – especially if they are a subordinate at work.
I remember an incident in one of my post-college jobs in which an Assistant Manager did not admit she forgot to note when an employee asked for a day off. The Head Manager fired the same employee the following day because he assumed he failed to show up for work. The Assistant Manager's honesty would have saved this person their job.
If a cashier or waiter gives you too much money back or forgets to charge you for something you bought, it is always best to let them know about the mistake. Taking advantage of someone else's mistake is dishonest and creates bad karma. Plus, they may have to pay for it at the end of their shift.
Respect means treating other people with courtesy and consideration. It also includes respecting their property, their privacy, and their views and beliefs. When you respect someone, you treat them with dignity and consideration. You also avoid doing anything that might hurt or offend them.
One of the best ways to show respect for someone is to listen to them carefully. This means giving them your full attention and not interrupting them when they are
It may also involve showing reverence to some segments of society like our elders. For instance, in many cultures, it is considered disrespectful to call someone by their first name unless you have been permitted to do so.
Being responsible means being reliable and dependable. It also includes being accountable for your actions and taking responsibility for your mistakes.
When you are responsible, you can be counted on to do what you say you will do. You are also careful in your dealings with other people and take care to not cause them any harm.
A responsible person will follow rules such as driving within the speed limit and not littering. They will also take care of their belongings and not borrow things without permission.
Caring means showing kindness and concern for others. It also includes being helpful and considerate. When you care about someone, you want what is best for them.
You may show your care for others by doing things like cooking for them, helping them with their homework, or just spending time with them.
Caring also involves being empathetic, which means being able to understand and share the feelings of another person. This can be a valuable skill when consoling someone who is going through a tough time.
Cooperation means working together to achieve a common goal. It includes being willing to compromise and putting aside your own needs to help others.
When you cooperate with someone, you are willing to work with them instead of against them. You are also willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
For instance, you may decide to work on a project with a colleague instead of going out for drinks with your friends. A cooperative society can solve problems without resorting to violence.
Fairness means treating people equally and justly. It includes being impartial and not showing favoritism. When you are fair, you give everyone a chance to succeed.
You may be called upon to be fair in your dealings with other people, such as when you are mediating a dispute. It is important to be impartial and not take sides. Such moral values are important in certain professions such as judges, lawyers, and police officers.
Courage is the ability to do something even though you are afraid. It includes standing up for what you believe in and not backing down even when the odds are against you.
Being brave does not mean that you are fearless. It means that you can face your fears and do what is right, even when you are afraid.
An example of courage or bravery would be if you saw someone being bullied and you stepped in to stop it, even though you were afraid of the bully. It would also include being the first person to stand up and speak out against injustice, even when everyone else is afraid to do so.
Courage set off world-changing movements such as Civil Rights Era in the U.S.A, protests in Tiananmen Square, and the Arab Spring.
Loyalty involves showing constant and unwavering support for someone or something. When you are loyal to someone, you stick by them even when times are tough. When you take marriage vows, a pledge of loyalty is made to your spouse to stand by them in sickness and in health.
You may be loyal to your family, friends, or country. Someone loyal to their country would never spy for another country, even if they were offered a large sum of money.
Loyalty to an organization is often shown by sports fans who never stop cheering for their team whether they win or lose.
Self-control is the ability to control your emotions and impulses. It includes being able to resist temptation and making responsible choices.
When you have self-control, you are in control of your life and are not controlled by your emotions. You are also able to resist temptation and make choices that are in your best interest and of those around you.
Learning self-control prevents one from doing something as simple as overeating to more serious acts such as sexual assault. You will understand that “no” means “no” and follow suit. The Bible has many lessons about self-control.
10. Work Ethic
A strong work ethic is the willingness to work hard and do your best. It includes being punctual, responsible, and reliable. When you have a strong work ethic, you can be counted on to do your job well.
Your work ethic is important in both your personal and professional life. It is one of the most important moral values to have in the workplace. If you don't pull your weight at work, it affects your coworkers and can lead to a decline in productivity.
Perseverance is the ability to keep going even when things are tough. It includes being persistent and never giving up. When you persevere, you don't let obstacles get in your way.
An example of perseverance is when someone loses a limb but does not give up and learns to live a full life without it. Some professional runners run after the loss of one or both legs such as in the Paralympics.
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. When you have integrity, you do the right thing even when no one is watching.
A great example of integrity is giving credit to someone whose work you could have taken credit for. I have witnessed people in higher positions take credit for a successful project or achievement they played little part in. However, a leader with integrity would gladly acknowledge the people who did the work and give them the credit they deserve.
Being humble will let you achieve greatness. It includes being modest and not thinking you are better than others. When you are humble, you accept both praise and criticism.
One example of humility is when you are asked to do a task that is below your skill level. A person with humility would not think twice about doing the task and would even be grateful for the opportunity to help. A humble person would not brag or be arrogant about being rich or having a high-level degree or job.
For example, having a Masters’ degree would never cause me to look down on someone who did not finish high school because it has no bearing on their intellect or value as a person.
Compassion is the ability to care for others and feel empathy for their situation. It includes being kind and understanding. When you are compassionate, you want to help others who are suffering.
The world is in a constant state of flux in which many people suffer various tragedies. Many compassionate people donate money or time to causes such as Habitat for Humanity or The Red Cross. Others may volunteer at soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Some people show compassion by being a listening ear for a friend in need.
Forgiveness is the ability to let go of anger and resentment. It includes being able to forgive yourself and others. When you forgive, you do not hold grudges.
It's natural to feel anger and resentment when someone wrongs you but holding onto that negative emotion will only hurt you in the end. It's important to learn to forgive so that you can move on with your life.
Forgiveness does not mean you must be friends with the person who wronged you, but it does mean you must let go of the anger and resentment. Holding in anger can affect your physical and mental health.
When you are grateful, you realize that everything is a blessing or a learning moment. Being thankful and appreciative not only shows good morals towards others but can also internally benefit you. When you are grateful for what you have – no matter how small, it can make you happier and more positive.
Believe it or not, gratitude includes being thankful for the good and bad in your life. There is a popular saying that “rejection is God's protection”. In other words, not getting that job or being accepted by a potential lover may be a sign that the world has something better in store for you.
Have you ever heard the expression, ” Cleanliness is close to Godliness”? There is a lot of truth to that statement.
When you are clean, it shows that you have self-respect, and you respect others. It also shows that you are a healthy person who is not a carrier of the disease. Keeping your environment clean is also important. A clean house or office is a sign that you can care for yourself, and others and you are ready to welcome others in.
When someone knowingly lives in a filthy environment, such as in the show “Hoarders”, it can be a sign that they are not in the right frame of mind or may no longer care about their own well-being. Such a situation does not mean they are bad, but some may question their morals and what type of activity they are up to.
When you can wait calmly and not get angry, you are much more likely to have a good outcome. It includes being able to control your emotions and not fly off the handle at the first sign of anger or confrontation. When you are patient, you don't act impulsively.
A good example of patience is when you are in a long line at the grocery store and the person in front of you is taking a long time. A patient person would not get angry or frustrated. They would understand that everyone moves at a different pace and that eventually, they will get to the front of the line.
When you are kind, you show concern for others and act in a way that pleases or benefits them. It includes being gentle, caring, and helpful.
There are many ways to show kindness. You can perform random acts of kindness, such as paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line. You can also volunteer your time at a local hospital or nursing home. Or you can simply be a good listener and be there for a friend in need.
Sometimes being kind can be as simple as smiling or saying “hello” or “thank you”. I notice people who work in customer service have often noted my kindness when all I did was smile and be polite.
Faithfulness is being reliable, trustworthy, and having allegiance to someone, something, or an ideal you proclaim to believe in. You can be faithful to a spouse by not cheating on them sexually or emotionally.
We often associate faith more with God. Showing faith in your god/deity goes beyond words. This can be done by attending religious services, reading religious texts, or being an active member of a religious community.
Most importantly, you show your godly faith in how you treat others and how you live your life. Reading scripture is one thing but following them is how your faith will truly show.
An open mind is the ability to see things from different perspectives and not be quick to judge. It includes being willing to listen to others, having empathy, and being willing to learn new things even if they are out of your comfort zone.
When you are open-minded, you don't just listen to others, you actually hear them. You don't make assumptions about what they are saying but instead, try to understand their point of view. Learning new things, even if they go against what you believe, helps an individual and society continue to move forward.
For instance, you may be open to trying new food that you've never had before or learning about a different culture. When it comes to politics, you may have certain beliefs but are willing to be open enough to the idea that there may be another way of looking at the same issue.
A lack of such political open-mindedness has caused many problems for the United States in recent years.
Final Thoughts About Moral Values All People Should Learn
A world without some moral values would be a scary place. Imagine if everyone was out for themselves and no one cared about the well-being of others. It's important to have empathy and compassion for others. It's also important to be honest and have integrity.
While some people may argue that moral values are innate, it's important to learn them anyway. After all, not everyone is born with a strong sense of morality. And, even if someone is born with good moral values, they still need to be taught how to put them into practice.
Hopefully, this list of moral values examples has given you something to think about. If you want more perspective about values, check out the article Intentional Living: 8 Strategies to Live According to Your Values.