Teresa Mercer, LCSW, LCAC – April 23, 2019

Upholding Values in Today’s Society
By Teresa Mercer, Youth First, Inc.

I have worked with people of all ages, and that has given me the unique experience of learning about the different value systems of many people. It has been very interesting to listen to every person’s story and what is important in their life, whether they are 6 or 60 years old.

Values reflect our sense of right and wrong. They help us grow and develop. They help us create the future we want. The decisions we make every day are a reflection of our values.

We learn most of our values from our parents and extended families. Our family values stem from our social and cultural values. Sometimes new life experiences may change values we previously held.

Individual values reflect how we live our life and what we consider important for our own self-interests. Individual values include enthusiasm, creativity, humility and personal fulfillment.

Relationship values reflect how we relate to other people in our life, such as friends, family, teachers, managers, etc. Relationship values include openness, trust, generosity and caring.

Social values reflect how we relate to society. Social values include justice, freedom, respect, community, and responsibility.

In today’s world, it may seem our society doesn’t practice many values. We have a rise in discrimination, abuse of power, greed, etc. What are we leaving behind for our future generations? Maybe it’s time society takes a hard look at its values.

Here are some things I feel our society needs more of:

  • Empathy – Empathy is defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another. People need to understand who others are and accept who they are.  Focusing on how we can grow together should be our ultimate goal.
  • Respect – Mutual respect is needed for all of us. This is what makes us human. Having respect for everyone, despite the differences between us, is vital in order for a society to function well.
  • Love – Having love in our hearts keeps us from feeling the need to harm others. Love helps us acknowledge the similarities we all share rather than the differences of color, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Loyalty – Loyalty is a value that binds us to a person, thing or sentiment. With loyalty, we do not betray. If we all shared loyalty, it would help us build the strength needed to stand up against something that would harm our society.
  • Honesty – One form of honesty in society is accepting yourself. With honesty, you can admit your flaws and take the necessary steps to improve yourself. When we can admit to our flaws it can help someone else admit theirs. Ultimately, we can all help each other become better people.

Values can be contagious; if you practice them, many others will also, including our children. Hopefully more practice from all of us will leave the world a better place for future generations.

This column is written by Teresa Mercer, LCSW, LCAC, school social worker for Youth First, Inc., a local nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families. Youth First provides 55 Master’s level social workers to 76 schools in 10 Indiana counties. Over 38,000 youth and families per year have access to Youth First’s school social work and afterschool programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.