Our Values as Individuals

Our values are our beliefs about what are the right ways to behave. When we decide to act in the world, if we have clear values we take them into account first. For example, if I consider that a crucial value for me is not to bring any more harm to the environment than I have to, I may well decide to cut my consumption of anything that is luxurious and unnecessary. If we consider our values to be objective, we believe that our choices should be guided from some independent standpoint, for example by religious or humanitarian principles.

Young girl in the CYPTEC on Wheels mobile computer training centre run by the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Asia Regional Centre in India.Our ‘values’, then, are our standards or principles, the things that we consider to be of real and lasting worth and importance in life, even though we cannot physically touch them or buy and sell them. If we consider our values as personal, we may feel that that they are so important that we must defend them, even against rational argument. Each one of us has these subjective or personal values, but the communities we live in usually have shared values, or shared understandings about important goals and principles of behaviour. These might well overlap with many people’s personal values, but equally they might sometimes contradict them.