My personal values have developed over the period of time encompassing my entire life and, in my opinion, have resulted in a coherent and stable ethics code. Constructed under a set of external influences such as family, school, friends, media and others, my personal values nevertheless reflect my individual approach that reworked many norms present in society. These values have formed the basis for behavior norms that constitute a consistent standard of conduct. Although I may sometimes deviate from behaviors prescribed by my personal values, over the long run my behavior patterns are corrected to be in accordance with ethical beliefs. In this paper, I will explore the part of my autobiography that deals with the development of various values.
1. Altruism and Care for Others
This personal value has developed under the influence of my family, in particular my mother for whom caring has always been a priority. Believing that a human existence is only justified through caring for fellow humans, she accustomed me to thinking that my life should be full of care for other people. In this, she meant not only members of the family or friends and acquaintances, but anybody, such as a person walking by in the street.
Thus, the strongest single influence in the development of this personal value was family impact, in particular stemming from my mother. I would like to note, too, that interactions with other adults including school teachers and relatives did not discourage me from thinking so. Naturally, in classes for young kids, the need to be attentive to the needs of others is often emphasized, but in my opinion, I was more susceptible to these calls than others due to my mother’s previous influence.
The grounding for this value is more difficult to explain for, as I stated above, I absorbed much of it unconsciously in early childhood. Most probably, this is grounded in an approach close to virtue ethics that claims certain character traits to be praiseworthy in any case and in particular situations alike. Thus, my mother inspired me to think that caring is an absolute value that will be workable in any situation. In society, too, it is believed for the most part that a person who can sacrifice personal interests for the sake of others is a moral and good person in contrast to one who is selfish and unwilling to take action to help others out of need.
The second possible explanation is that some people, and I am of that kind, feel more connected to the whole humanity than others. I do not see myself as an isolated unit, but rather as someone who belongs to mankind in general. From this viewpoint, caring for each other maximises our chances for survival as a group as opposed to a situation where each person fights with circumstances on one’s own. For instance, if I travel in some remote area see a person who has just fallen off a rock and will die there without me, humanity will be better off if I climb down and pick up that person. This does not mean that I personally expect to be helped later by this very person, but from the group viewpoint, this is a more advantageous attitude if adopted by all group members. Thus, my adherence to caring for others has positive implications for all people around me since they have someone to count on most of the time.
Equality is another important value in my personal value system. Treasuring equality, I am always opposed to any outbreaks of discrimination based on any characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion etc. Unlike many of my peers, I seldom keep silent when I hear sexist or racist remarks and try to advise the person on the unacceptability of this behaviour. In my choice of friendships and colleagues, I do my best not to be influenced by bias.
The origin of this value is perhaps best explained by the influence of mainstream American culture that is known for its egalitarian character and to a great degree imposes this doctrinal value on ordinary Americans. Added to this is the influence of the neighbourhood where I lived as a child that was remarkable not only for a diverse mix of ethnicities, but also for a truly tolerant atmosphere. Finally, as stated above, I often feel a real citizen of the world, and to me people from different cultural backgrounds are of no less value than myself. One can also find in this approach manifestation of this collectivist trend that ensures the survival of humanity as a group, using the approach of consequentialist ethics, in particular utilitarianism.
By ‘peace’ I mean here that I am averse to any kind of violence and conflict in personal relations. To me, physical violence of any kind is totally unacceptable, and I can make a violent action only in self-defense. Similarly, I have resistance to any kind of psychological abuse, trying to correct this when it occurs in front of my eyes. Valuing peace has certain limitations since I try to avoid conflict in situations when confrontation may yield more decisive and effective results, especially in the workplace. On the other hand, I believe that my aversion to conflict can also help my career many people prefer working together with me, knowing that I often prefer to solve conflicts in a peaceful way.
The importance of peace as a value to me also stems from my family. Being a devoted and friendly couple, my parents seldom had heated disputes and almost never quarreled. They taught me the same pattern of communication with my siblings and cousins. At school, this love of peace was reinforced by a tragic accident: once I observed how boys, in fighting, accidentally pushed a guy to the side of the road, where he was run over by a car. Although he got away with only a few fractures, we all had a lasting shock from this accident, and I realized that physical violence can lead to consequences not always measurable. As I grew up, school instruction and wide reading in psychology made me realize that psychological abuse is no less harmful than physical, which reinforced my preference of peaceful behavior. However, I may revise this value if life demonstrates to me the importance of a more aggressive behavior style.
Integrity is another value that I hold in great esteem. As with previous values, the most important source in its formation was the family, this time mostly coming from my grandfather. The owner of a small business, he won the respect in his small community due to his consistent integrity in treating his partners, workers and clients. This persuaded him that this model of behaviour was the most advantageous since at the end of his life he had both financial well-being and good relationships with people. Observation of current realities strengthened my conviction that integrity is important. Looking at business, no one can approve of recent corporate scandals that led to disastrous consequences for both managers who were guilty and investors.
Belief in the importance of integrity will have an influence on my behavior in the workplace, making me consider this value in decision-making. On the one hand, I find it very frustrating to say even a small lie that does not hurt anybody, such as inventing a false excuse when I come late. This may make my professional life harder than that of people who, for instance, do not hesitate to lie so as to talk a client into buying something. At the same time, integrity can help me win trust of colleagues and customers, and trust means a lot in many careers.
Self-reliance, in my case, may be absorbed from a cultural environment as in America a lot of people believe in reliance on their own strengths to achieve something in life. Therefore, I have been stimulated by the national culture and examples of “self-made” people in books and media publications. An event that showed to me the value of self-reliance occurred in school when I was trying to explain to the teacher why I had problems with arithmetic, trying to blame it on others, such as other schoolchildren who disturbed me during the class or parents who did not help me with the homework, unlike those in other families. He said to me the words that remained in my memory for a lifetime: “If you go around blaming other people, you will spend all your life whimpering. You should look in yourself for what you can do and not in other people.”
Remembering these important words, I have always tried to put away the thought that I may be disadvantaged in any area and that other people may do the job for me. In most cases, I try to look for ways to accomplish things on my own. This is not always an advantage, because at work I may be too reliant on myself and often blame things on myself even if I just have bad luck. However, there is little doubt that this positive, self-reliant attitude can help me accomplish many things in life.
The above is a brief description of values that constitute my personal value system. Initially absorbed in my family, my values have developed over time under the influence of school, friends and other external influences. Mostly with potential to benefit my career, my values also imply limitations that I will have to overcome to make sure that my personal value system is effective.
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