Values & Actions

An important distinction between the language of values and of actions is commonly ignored. Partly, because it has not been well-identified in much formal education.

It’s a surprising omission considering how important these related concepts are.

Values are the subjective and personal interpretations we each give every aspect of life or event we experience. Actions are events that we create or see.

We sense actions outside or inside our bodies, while its a value, or multiple values, we use to estimate the actions that make up our world.

Even the simple action of cutting your hair, or eating breakfast is full of values. How do you want to look? What should I eat? Where does my food come from? When should I eat and where?

This capacity for discernment and judgement using values is extraordinary, when you consider it.

Every moment of each of our lives is assessed continously by our ‘intelligent-interpretive’ valuations. Perhaps, even when we are dreaming our minds are enacting these values, although often distorted.

Why is this so important?

If your descriptive experience of values and valuing is what makes you human, even where you can discern these values or not, then considering your values and the values of others is an important subject?

And in communication with others, where these values are so central to understanding each other, for example in making agreement or finding disagreement, values are an essential mechanism for social interpretation?

It’s also an important distinction to make about these values, that they are primary and always subjective. We are always valuing from our own distinctive language and other framing or biases.

Across science, a great effort is spent on limiting natural human bias and ‘subject’ values. But as the physicists have discovered, when looking at the world in detail as they do, these biases persist.

Even to the point of affecting the outcome of their hugely valuable experiments. Yes, they compensate and modify to find their answers, yet look at the scale of their challenge and the investment in making a singular reasonable statement about reality.

Now look at the scale of the everyday human challenge to make sense of each of our individual worlds. Then to identify common agreement or to recognise the parameters of a shared dynamic reality?

Meanwhile actions are the actual events of which life is formed. Eating food, sitting at table, going to the barber or hairdresser.

You can see an action or event, an experiment in science, while the interpretations in your head – valuing insights – are not actions, yet once communicated they can become actions.

Values are the very powerful interpretive filters or biases that we use to view and examine our actions.

So having a hair-cut may be a simple action, while having a bad hair-cut is a value that might stay with you for years!

These values are the subject of communication ethics.

What distinguishes each of us from our nearest and dearest and in wider cultural forms, what creates the differences between you and others.

Values are what people’s view of the world is comprised of. It’s often harder to change an entrenched value than modify an action.

We sense actions and we recognise values in actions, while it is the quality of this discernment that changes the trajectory of our lives.

Perhaps, with age and experience comes the beautiful realisation of the complexity and quality of human discernment using values?

Although, in youth, new values emerge and these can become a source of hope, inspiration and change.

In a global age, with massive risks emerging, every citizen must locate and discern their own values and the values of others, to assure a better, less threatened future.

We should all ask, are  ‘old values’ that underpin the actions of violence, greed and fear, distorting the possibilities for action towards a better future?

Or perhaps the values of a new age, of hope, abundance and wonder can really identify what actions need to change and how human beings can agree a better future, together?

Action through comprehension of our values is the only way forward, or risk a world deformed by valueless action.