“Let us work together, let us speak together, let our minds and hearts be united for a great cause.” –The Rig-Veda
Values have always been imperative to man’s life. That is why; analysis and discussion about the worth and significance of values has been there right from the beginning. A life without values is considered as useless, meaningless and baseless. In such a situation, i.e. indispensability of values in life, the first and foremost question that emerges in mind is: How to define value?
Origin/Meaning of the Word Value: As quoted in the beginning of this discourse, Value that is Mulya in the Indian term, is one of the most important subjects that has the pride of place in the oldest Vedic-Hindu scriptures including the Rig-Veda. Value is the word used in English for Mulya and it originates from Valere of Latin; also from Valoir of the old French, which means the cost or the worth. In its basic spirit this word most cogently reflects man’s quality and ability; in other words, a man’s perfection and core competence in life. Along with this, it clearly reveals the truth that a life based on values alone could be the best, honourable, just and exemplary. Socrates, a great ancient Greek philosopher rightly said, “To live well, honourably and justly are [one and] the same things.”
After above brief on meaning and origin of the word value, it can verily be concluded that values accord positive strength to man’s life; values get one to realize and identify one’s reality, and by developing one’s own virtues they enable all-round growth of mankind. Indeed, values give worth, glory and baseline to life. In this context the statement of American novelist Jennifer Crusie [Jennifer Smith] that “values are not buses...they are not supposed to get you anywhere; they are supposed to define who you are” is most apt and revealing.
No doubt, the importance of values in leading a man to his true identity and reality, and develop virtues that he already possesses within; and thereby making his life meaningful and successful on the path of truth, is too obvious to be emphasized. A cryptic line from Mahatma Gandhi, “your values become your destiny”, says it best.
Getting familiar with values, deliberating on them, fine tuning them to present day needs, and approving them for implementation in routine living, is welfaristic necessity for human growth. This is the reality –the truth, not only of the past, but also of the present and for all times to come. There can be no alternative or replacement to this reality.
Values are, it can be repeated, inseparable to life. Having human life as the nuclei it can be said with certainty that values are as necessary for him as air to breathe, water and food to thrive and cloths to separate man from other living beings as the superior of creatures on this planet.
Values are the soul of ethics. They are the central force in making deeds truthful; in other words, it is values that contribute to make acts real and excellent. Further, values are the means of nourishing morality –the fountainhead of justice and good governance at all levels, from individual to universal. Values make man responsible. They make situations conducive for him as per the demand of time and space. They bring him within the domain of truth and lead him to all-round progress.
If truth prevails in behaviours, the spirit of wellbeing and welfare of one and all remains intact, and acts are done dutifully; the task is accomplished with unity holistically and also for human unity. Values are, therefore, serious matters for establishment, development and refinement as per the demand of time and space. Moreover, as values are the subject of contemplation and discourse; they are intrinsically connected to human nature and actions; they are not, therefore, beyond the reality of the eternal law of change. Values are no exception to the law of change. Truth –true acts for the large scale human welfare and unity, as said in the foregoing, is the acid-test of values. It is for this reason that a political thinker like Henry David Thoreau has verily said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me [the value of] truth.”