In reflecting on my values, norms, and beliefs, I am first obligated to present a confession; in my life to date, these are not matters I have usually thought of as such. More exactly, and I think in common with many others, I have always tended to trust to my values as “being there” should I need them, which goes to a lack of actual consideration of them. I realize that norms and expectations are in place no matter what we do. I personally act and behave in situations in which, by and large, my fundamental beliefs are shared by those around me. At the same time, and as challenges to basic beliefs do not often arise in daily life, it is easy to lose sight of this influence. When nothing exists to demand that we call upon our values, we allow them to become vague ideas, even as we assume we maintain them. This in turn now brings me to a new understanding of values potentially weakened by neglect, so I feel that I then take on another value in itself.
This aside, however, I can state with certainty that any beliefs and values I maintain as important are based on a single one, and one usually associated with the medical profession: do no harm. I believe on the most fundamental level that is a value with universal meaning. No matter anyone’s culture, setting, or era, the belief that no harm should result from anything we do, as far as we may possibly predict, should be a norm. To my mind this is a platform for all other beliefs because it acts as a boundary of all behavior. It also serves as a check on impulses too easily rationalized or excused because we are so often able to shape thinking to suit our own needs and desires. Opportunities present themselves in which we may gain at another’s expense and, when that expense is not extreme, people will often find a way to justify the efforts. Doing do, however, comes at too high a price for me, and I trust this value because it provides needed balance and perspective. Beyond this, I generally support the value of expressing consideration for others and different points of view, which is not necessarily easy. Simply because we believe in certain views and thinking as right, there is a reflex to then see others as wrong; we do not intend to be disrespectful, but it happens because we feel strongly about issues. This is then a value I work at, in order for it to become a norm in my own life. Lastly, I also feel that there is a responsibility for each of us to develop and become the “best version” of ourselves as we can be. When we do this we serve the world around us, because we promote a norm wherein all are encouraged to aspire to greater things.
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