First of all, WHAT IS A VALUE?
When an action reaps a desired consequence, a value is born. For instance, you notice that telling the truth causes people to trust you and has a positive effect on your friendships. This value of “honesty” then becomes important to you, because it carries “value” for you. That is why values are called values.
Values are different than morals. Morals tell us WHAT to do. Our morals are our standards of behavior, or what we perceive to be right or wrong. Values on the other hand, are tools to see HOW our actions can have positive or negative consequences. Our values can help us shape our moral codes, and constantly evaluate them to see if they are causing more harm or more good.
Take honesty for example, a common value. If you value honesty, you use it, whether it is easy or difficult. But what about a situation where honesty can put someone’s life in danger? Say an enraged serial killer asks where to find someone. Will you tell the truth? Probably not, because even though you value honesty, you value human life more. An immature moral code may say to “never lie no matter what”. But after some life experience, he or she may realize that there certainly a time for lying, say, if a life is on the line.
Values allow us to grow and learn, observe and watch, add or subtract to our moral code as needed. They keep our minds and hearts open to learning. NKFA builds BLACK SASHES who are leaders using the 6 Black Sash Values, which are Integrity, Accountability, Perseverance, Compassion, Courage, and Leadership.
Each value helps the student make more sense of how to find peace within and work effectively with others. Many times when asked what a value means, a student will describe a behavior, rather than a definition. If you ask a 5 year old what respect means, they might say “be nice” or “listen to others”. When really, the word respect literally means “look again” As in, “consider what you’re about to do, and if you’d want that done upon you.” The fun part about learning values is seeing where and how they fit. The same value may constitute a different action in a different situation, depending on the person.
Let us start with COMPASSION?
Compassion literally means “to feel with”, or to feel what someone else is feeling. Compassion teaches leaders to consider how others feel, and to realize that it might not be always possible to know exactly how others feel. A compassionate leader allows himself to feel the feelings of those he is leading. Using compassion might look like allowing a small child to struggle to tie their shoelaces, even though it’s taking 10 times as long as if you just did it yourself. Or it might look like giving up your chair to an elderly person.
What about COURAGE?
Courage is a tool that helps us to live in spite of our fears. It simply sheds light on the fact that we do not have to live a life ruled by fear, and that it’s okay to prioritize other things OVER our own comfort. It
allows us to be willing to be afraid and uncomfortable – when this is required. Some express courage simply by dialing the telephone to order a pizza. Others may express courage by allowing their teenagers to take the car for the first time. More prominent acts of courage might be traveling to outer space, or rescuing someone from a burning building. In every case, the person decided something else was more important than their fear.
And how about PERSEVERANCE?
Most think it means simply: never give up! However, this of course is not always the best answer. Perseverance teaches us that even though things are hard, or may even seem absolutely impossible, it’s often worth the time and sacrifice it will take to achieve a goal. But again, just because you have perseverance as a value, does not mean you are morally required to finish absolutely everything you start. It just means, that when you finally decide something is truly important and worthwhile, that you’ll have the grit to attain it.
So what values do you have?
In what situations are they actually valuable? And it what situations are they not? Stay tuned for the next issue of “SIFU SAYS”, where we’ll dive into the meanings behind the last 3 NKFA Black Sash Values.