ALS Topic 4 -
Common Values - inherited, acquired, bought, made .. or a myth?
Focus questions for Adelaide Lunchtime
Seminar, 19 March 2018
questions below are not supposed to suggest biased answers. You
really can adopt any point of view your can suggest evidence for. Do
be prepared for others suggesting counter-evidence!
1. We often hear
that 'Australians share common values with Americans' (but
implicitly not, say, with Chinese). What are these supposed common
values, and which people are we actually talking about?
2. To obtain
Australian citizenship, immigrants are supposed to demonstrate a
knowledge of and acceptance of Australian values. What is the
official interpretation of these values and how much sense does that
3. What are your
core values? How much are they an ideal rather than a lived reality?
Where will you compromise?
4. In every
country people will tell you a story about 'what we are like' and
'most [e.g. Australians] believe this ...'. Observing the behaviour
of individuals in such a country we often see something very
different from the idealized version. Why do people accept these
idealized cultural myths, who manipulates them, and how might they
change over time? Think of real examples.
religions, and inclusive ideologies like the original idea of
communism, have claimed to offer people a unified set of common
values for living. Such common value sets are usually claimed to
trancend tribal, national and other cultural boundaries. How
effective have these ready made value sets actually been in shaping
behaviour over time? How commonly do they just provide a cover for
6. Groups of
people may be united, long or short term, by a shared language, by a
religion, by social or professional class, by gender, by any kind of
shared interest, by the common pursuit of wealth, by some shared
advantage or disadvantage, by the historical memory of a culture, by
the pursuit of a dream (heaven, the perfect communist society etc),
by common employment or profession, by location, by belonging to a
family, a football team or a country, by coercion or persuasion, by
opposition to a common enemy ... and so on, ad infinitum. They may
also be divided by differences in all of these. In other words, we
live many roles, some of them in severe value conflicts with other
roles. Should we set clear priorities of value hierarchies (how?),
or is it best to just muddle through, flip-flopping as each occasion
7. There are all kinds of marriages and
other sorts of personal partnerships. How big a part do you think
that 'shared values' (whatever they are) play in these
relationships? Do relationships actually fall apart because a
couple's personal values diverge as they mature?
8. Nearly half of
the Australian population was
born overseas, or have parents who were
born overseas. A large and increasing number have come from
non-English speaking countries. It is therefore not difficult, for
those who are motivated to sow dissension, to find values and issues
which divide us as a population. Can you think of a viable set of
values which might actually bring us together? How genuine do you
think these uniting factors might be without appealing to shallow
9. Is it desirable for schools to
deliberately teach children 'civic values' and/or 'national values',
or is it better to let such things emerge implicitly? How could such
stuff be taught (if desired) without inciting cinicism as those
children become adults?
10. We are facing
a very real prospect within a generation or two of some human beings
being enhanced by drugs for intelligence, enhanced by implants to
make them into superior cyborg creatures, and/or being genetically
manipulated before birth to make them into superior beings. Of
course, we already have innumerable social divisions based on
intelligence, skin colour, birth status and so on. Will these new
deliberately superior categories require new value sets to influence
their relationships with ordinary people? What form might such value
sets take in reality (as opposed to wishful thinking)?
lost its compass for the world, while Jacinda Ardern shows the way -
Australian values are neither clear nor consistent. If we want to
make a difference in the world, we should follow New Zealandís lead"
- Thom Woodroofe, The Guardian
Sat 3 Mar 2018 @
[ You don't have to agree or disagree with this analysis. It does
set some useful points for debate ]
Review "If youíre so smart, why arenít you rich? Turns out itís just
1. articles at
legacy site: http://thormay.net