In most interviews I hear these days, the term “America’s Values” is bantered back and forth. “How does your statement align with America’s traditional values?” or “You can’t honestly think your views are in line with America’s values, do you?” I’m left scratching my head wanting to know where I can find this list of values. Was it in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or Bill of Rights and I missed it? Perhaps there is another founding document I didn’t learn about in American history. My curiosity got the best of me this week, so I did some digging.
The lists of America’s values were many and varied. The Washington International Center (Andrews University) listed (1) individualism, (2) equality, (3) materialism, (4) science and technology, (5) progress and change, (6) work and leisure, (7) competition, (8) mobility, (9) volunteerism, and (10) action and achievement oriented.
Vintage American Ways listed three basic American values (six with the “price” values added): (1) individual freedom (with the price for that being self-reliance); (2) equality of opportunity (with the price for that being competition), and (3) the American dream (with the price for that being hard work).
To be honest, I believe most Americans would have a difficult time coming up with a list of values that all Americans live by. It may be because of our inherent belief that every individual is unique, so, therefore, one list could never be applied to every American citizen.
Judeo-Christian principles and traditions have a foundational role in America, beginning with the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” That’s why I find it odd that the values listed above are cultural and not moral values. For instance, while some depicted values of humanity, none depicted the value of life or religion.
To know yourself it’s important to know what you believe in and put value on. If someone were to ask what your values are, what would you say?
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”