10 Jun 2013

3) Making the link between IDENTITY and VALUES

I quite enjoy the Pew Research Center because they are a non-partisan, non-advocacy data and research organization.  They are principally concerned with the data and statistics rather than taking or advising a particular position.

Have a look at http://www.pewresearch.org/ and play around.  We quickly get feel that our attitudes and values on issues of the day are linked to our identities in terms of racial, cultural and religious groupings.  These identifiers link certain value systems to the group and produce trends that make value systems almost predictable by such groupings.

You will find trends in attitudes to gay marriage in the very religious, or among Muslims being different to the non-religious or even the politically liberal for instance.  Sometimes these trends are common knowledge and sometimes they are surprising, but usually they are interesting in some way or another.

Taking a position on this issue:

Attitudes on abortion, contraception, women’s rights, children’s rights, misogyny etc etc all seem to have links to cultural values.

Botched circumcisions take a number of lives each year in the coming of age ceremonies, but no matter, they continue each year due to some cultural values held by those communities that must be more important than the risk.  Infant circumcisions are more important than an individual’s right to decide on his own body in some societies.  Other groups use the same word “Circumcision” for females, to describe removal of her genitals basically, and feel that to them it’s pretty much the same thing….

These values are usually more or less prevalent in groups and certain identities reflect certain tendencies.

If a democratic secular society is to be valued, I hope certain things remain non-negotiable.  We have fought very hard for racial equality in South Africa, and we still are not totally there.  Women’s rights and the rights of gays and lesbian have also taken a long time just to get the recognition they have today, and I think we should make these and other things we've fought for NON-NEGOTIABLE in a society that values civil liberty and individual freedom of expression.

Europe and Scandinavia are faced with this clash of value systems due to the large scale Islamic community emigration bringing Islamic values with those communities which are in many ways at odds with Western values. Their children are born into identity crises, which is really not always fair.  How do we reconcile these values?

What are the important issues of today? Overpopulation, the environment, global economy, the energy crises, war, disease, poverty, human rights? Any other ideas to add to this?  I’m sure there are.

Let’s take these issues head on, and make a case for defining our shared culture of common consequence around them by contrasting current cultural values and see which provides the most likely way to find SOLUTIONS.