What Ever Happened To American Cultural Values?

08/26/2019

 

I’ve seen a number of people on both sides of the political aisle comment about a negative change in American cultural values.  Since both sides can’t be right about the cause, perhaps we’re talking about a difference in definitions. So, here’s my definition of American cultural values.

 

American cultural values

Traditional American cultural values refers to values that the country was founded on, cultural values that the founding fathers incorporated into things like the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

 

Freedom in America

We owe our very freedom to certain inalienable rights and the laws which are embedded in the country’s founding documents. What distinguishes America from other free countries is that it’s a “republic” as opposed to a “democracy.” Because we are a republic, we’re a nation of laws as set out in the Constitution.  Furthermore, citizens have rights, (e.g. as set out in the Bill of Rights) that were not given to them by the State. These are rights are inalienable (i.e. they can not be taken away by the State).

 

Core values

The details of what those cultural values are varies from person to person. The definition that I like the best comes from Vintage American Ways.com. Here’s what they said:

“Historically, the United States has been viewed as ‘the land of opportunity,’ a place where immigrants could have individual freedom, an equal chance for success, and the ability to have a better standard of living.”

Based on this concept, they identified three core values as follows:

  • Individual freedom
  • Equality of opportunity
  • The American Dream

 

Epilogue

The Declaration of Independence begins this way, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….” That’s what the founding fathers intended when they first created the American Republic, a country where people could be free and pursue their dreams.  It’s what makes America great and what is the driving force behind immigrants who still flock to our shores.

 

“We all share a common set of values that make us American… We are defined by the rights we have. . . Our rights are our history, why the first European settlers came here and why millions more have come here since.”  – John Zogby

 

 

 

 

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