Values - Do they change with time or they are eternal & universal?

Values - Do they change with time or they are eternal & universal?

We all have values. However a lot of times we don’t know exactly what they are. They are the qualities and ideas that help guide our behaviour and define who we are. Our values come from our beliefs, and are formed by various means. Some examples of values are- achievement, bravery, carefulness, challenge, compassion, generosity, honesty, humor, kindness, knowledge, open-mindedness, perseverance, respect, self-control, etc.

Yes they change –

1. Over the time, repeated positive engagement of values is likely to strengthen them. Our lives provide continual opportunities for the growth of certain values. Our lives also sometimes put constraints on certain values.

2. People's values tend to change over time as well. Values that suited you as a child change as you become a young adult, which may further change as you become an old person.

3. They change because we want them to; or sometimes they change even if when we didn’t mean them to. We may have believed that something is wrong but now we might not be so sure that it’s true. We may have believed that we’d never do something; but then we do it and we decide that it’s okay to do it.

4. Over a period of time, new ethical issues have arisen and values have changed.

5. New knowledge about existing problems or techniques and completely new areas of work has also led to change in values.

6. There are a series of core values around which most people would agree. However even those are changing at least in the intensity. For e.g. say if we believe that that human life is sacred, but we do not feel the same intensity of this value when judging a terrorist who has killed thousands of innocent people.

7. "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind." - English poet William Blake

8. We can often see resistance from parents and society as we are growing up. Our changing values sometimes conflict with our parents’ values, or our culture’s values and leads to this resistance. E.g. women working on par with men, etc.

9. Large-scale, widespread changes in values have been observed across the world at different times and have been attributed to different factors like - education, the rising use of new technologies, political discourse that stresses universalism, benevolence values, social justice, equality, peace, environmentalism, etc.

10. We can see examples in day to day life of how people change their moral values for their own benefit.

No they do not –

1. Values are universal but the motivation they provide to us is of differing degree. That doesn’t mean that values change.

2. Values as such do not change. Only their expression changes depending on circumstances and situations. In some cultures as well as different circumstances, the priorities assigned to values change.

3. We can find values like peace, kindness, hard work, perseverance, etc. still relevant to the same degree as from age old times. They will still remain relevant even after we die.

4. Values are essential to build ourselves. We build ourselves to survive in the world and create a society. Since values needed to build a good society are constant or similar, values can be said to be constant, similar or universal as each of us tries to build a good society.

5. “Open your arms to change but don't let go of your values.” - The 14th Dalai Lama. This tells us that good values are not supposed to change. They are eternal.


The conclusion is that values can and do change, though certain core values may be unaltered over a long period of time. These core values can be called as primarily values and the changing ones secondary values. The changes which occur in secondary values are due to changes in knowledge, changes in social and cultural values and norms, and changes arising through an individual’s personal experience of life.
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  • RE: Values - Do they change with time or they are eternal & universal? -Deepa Kaushik (09/23/15)
  • We all have a few basic values that we attin from birth. These values gets imbibed into the child by their audio-visual senses during the very early phase of their childhood. These values in the new born are like seeds sown in the soil which are being watered by the family members and the near and dear ones who surround the child. These basic values ususally forms the basis of the individual's core personality traits.

    These basic values do get wear and tear when they get accustomed to the external world. With the influence of the external world, the values do get altered from time-to-time. The individual might take up few more things that sounds good to his senses. Repeated strokes of the rope might make mark on the hard stone. Similarly a long standing influence might alter the values of the individual drastically, changing him totally upside down to his basic instincts of life.

    Now, the altered traits can be remoulded if given an appropriate opportunity. However, the values received and imbibed in the very early phase of childhood almost gets glued to the personality traits and individualizes the person from others. Hence, the basic core values remain eternal for the individual, which is however subject to alterations by the external influences.