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Reversal of values in postmodern society


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Diario de Navarra

Gerardo Castillo

Lecturer at School of Education and Psychology

Value is the quality or set of qualities for which a person is appreciated. It is that good whose possession increases personal possibilities and capabilities. The internship of value develops a person's humanity, while the counter-value deprives him/her of this quality. From a socio-educational point of view, values are considered referents and guidelines that orient human behavior. There are more revealing anecdotes about this possibility than some essays, such as, for example, the one I mention below.

In the middle of the war a soldier said to the captain, "A friend of mine has not returned from the battlefield. I request permission to go out and look for him". Reply: "Permission denied. I don't want you to risk your life for a man who is probably dead". The soldier, ignoring the prohibition, went out, and an hour later returned mortally wounded, carrying the body of his friend. The captain rebuked him: "I told you he was dead! Was it worth going out to bring back a corpse?" And the soldier replied: "Of course it was, sir! When I found him, he was still alive and he was able to tell me: "John, I was sure you would come". This anecdote highlights the value of fidelity in the relationship of friendship. Testimonies like this subject are the best way to educate in values.

Currently there is an inversion of values in the society of postmodernism with special reference letter to those of subject ethical. Some examples: authority, truth, rebelliousness, sincerity, love, freedom, thrift and patriotism are replaced, respectively, by permissiveness, "my truth", conformism, impudence, eroticism, independence, consumerism and chauvinism.

We can also observe the substitution of some values by substitutes. Postmodernists are willing to accept values and virtues by degrading them. For example, they accept piety by degrading it to humanitarianism; charity as equivalent to solidarity and philanthropy; friendship as camaraderie and companionship for fun.

A crisis of values at staff is reflected in society as a whole and becomes a social problem, from which derives a series of unethical actions and behaviors. In the same way, a crisis of society with respect to its configuration, translates a posteriori into a low estimation of values by the members of that society.

Postmodernism is the time of the "I". Postmodern man concentrates his efforts on a self-realization staff free of ideals; he lives in a subculture governed exclusively by superficial feelings, devoid of convictions and commitments. 

Postmodernism replaced the consistent with the banal and provoked a "new individualism" that only abides by the "law of desire". This "law" establishes that whatever I do is good if I want to do it. What gives it a guarantee of goodness is that it emanates directly from my desire; by that simple fact it would be justified in itself, without a contrast with the moral rule being necessary. The only rule is the absence of any rule. This is what the so-called "morality of tolerance" consists of, which restrains in the person what Victor Frankl calls "will to meaning".

Postmodern man Withdrawal to the individual evaluation , in order to save himself the effort, reflection and commitment that this entails. He does not make a discernment of what is right and what is wrong. And when he knows about someone's success he ignores the values behind it, attributing it to luck. A registration that I discovered by chance went like this: "They call it luck, but it is work; they call it chance, but it is discipline; they call it Genetics, but it is sacrifice".

It seems to me highly advisable that from time to time we all look at ourselves in a mirror called a scale of values, for example, that of Max Scheler. In today's society, preference is usually given to vital values, which refer to the human body (health, physical exercise, nutrition, etc.), while the least appreciated are those at the top of the scale, the ethical and religious ones.

This inversion of values dehumanizes society and makes it less and less livable. In this status the other is not seen as a neighbor, but as a rival with whom it is inevitable to fight. Homo homini lupus?

The authentic Education is especially committed to ethical values. If this is not done, we lose sight of the horizon of the perfection of the person, which is that of lived values, the virtues.