How “Traditional Values” Can Create Challenges

Attitudes and Values

I have been certified in an assessment process call “Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values.” One of the six main values that people are rated on is called the “Traditional” value. The other values are Theoretical, Social, Utilitarian, Individualistic, and Aesthetic (contact me if you require more information.) There are many ways to interpret these assessments and yet this “value,” Traditional, often creates a real interest for me as I review these reports.

A person with a very high score in the “Traditional” value is often a person driven by a very strong set of principles that often makes it appear that this individual is seeing the world in a “black and white” way. Their learned values, whether these are political or religious, are very rigid with little openness to compromise or to have the flexibility to see an opposing point of view. Very often a person with a high score in this value may have very strong religious connections or beliefs. These might include religious zealots, people with strong nationalism, or possibly strong law & order proponents. If you agree with these people you can have good relationships. If you disagree with their strong values or beliefs, you will have strong arguments or possibly confrontations.

People on the lowest scoring of this value are often people not bound by “convention” to a specific philosophical dogma, religion, or political belief. These people might be seen as very flexible in seeing both sides of an issue and may appear to be very “Wishy-washy.” This ability to understand both sides may be taken as a weakness in character by a strongly opinionated “High Traditional” person. If you want these people to take a strong stand, and make a commitment to some proposal, you may have a disappointing expectation.

Neither a high score or a low score in this value, makes you right or wrong. Knowing yourself, or whether this is a factor in a person that you are in relationship with can make a huge difference in how to approach many situations in your life. Seeing things in a “black or white” way can be a good or bad (difficult) thing. For example, have you ever had a political conversation at a family gathering or a work or in a social situation where you feel an argument breaking out because people have conflicting understandings or strong beliefs? Words may not be as hard as stones but they can hurt people as badly, or even worse. Knowing why some people are inflexible and can not be convinced about certain points of view can help save you the grief of understanding why a polarized issue can not be accepted by both sides in a disagreement. This may also explain why the “hard feelings” about some political elections are not easily patched up.

If you know people who are “high Traditional” in values and are in the military, law enforcement, and people with strong “right of center” political beliefs, you may know that being flexible regarding other people’s opposing attitudes can be a “stretch” for these “high Traditional” people. Historically, many wars have been fought over different religious beliefs where flexibility and acceptance are not the values held by the opposing leaders. In my mind, too many people have died in disagreements over differing values and beliefs in religion, politics, nationalistic attitudes. There is no easy answer but remember hatred and fear regarding the differences in beliefs is taught to our next generation and does not solve problems in a world that is growing smaller as population grows and technology spreads differing beliefs instantaneously around the globe.

It is easier said than done when it comes to accepting different beliefs, but understanding how rigid or how flexible people are can be very important when you need groups to be productive.

Another definition: The highest interest for this value, Traditional, may be called “unity,” “order,” or “tradition.” Individuals with high scores in this value seek a system for living. This system can be found in such things as conservatism or any authority that has defined rules, regulations and principles for living.

Hopefully, this awareness of why people think and behave in “rigid” ways will assist you in accepting that it is easier and safer for some traditional people to hold tight to their black and white understanding even when this runs contrary to getting along better in a broader world.

Anger and Rage filled People are Always Right, in Their View!

With the Presidential Elections happening later this year in the United States, the silly political theater is in full effect. Intelligence, cooperation, negotiation, reasoning, and civility go “out the window.” The people who yell loudest, even though a minority in the electorate, seem to get the most crazy, media time due to the fact the media loves the “crazies.” (Good screen-time…) So, I offer a few thoughts on how to view the process…

There are a lot of angry and rage driven people in this country (and the world) and they are always right, at least in their belief system. Most of these people have developed their habitual “knee-jerk” reaction to any opposing thought, by allowing their anger and rage to rise to the surface, and without any appropriate filtering, find expression. Historically, polite society has encouraged a safety net of emotional filtration of the expression of anger. We have developed laws that are supposed to keep strong emotions from taking over and the expression of emotional rage from being demonstrated. We have even developed laws which say that angry people in relationships can not, legally, beat each other or their children (as in domestic violence or child abuse.) Our system allows for “free expression” of our political views but has discouraged “punching someone out” for disagreeing. We do have problems with anger filled bullies who attempt to control situations with their anger by shouting down any opposing conversation or action. On their terms, free expression is sanctioned but only toward someone who holds their same belief. In this way, a minority can control the political process by saying “NO” and bullying any opposition.

Very often these angry, rage filled people are driven by their value system that sees things in “black and white” terms. “Either you are for me or against me” mentality. There is no “gray zone” where there is room to work together with compromise. This is why the congressional process in the United States has ground to a halt and become ineffective. No room to compromise means a minority opinion can control the political process. The person who “yells louder” wins the discussion and angry people, who have no appreciation for the act of compromise, seem to control progress by grinding negotiation to a halt.

“Black and white” values and expressing anger/rage are linked together. This value system historically has given rise to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes like the one currently controlling Iran and, in the past, Nazi Germany. The minorities take control of their political process, and their governments, without regard for compromise and the basic human rights of opposing beliefs. There are dangerous people who might strap an explosive vest to their body and walk into a crowded market to detonate their bomb. Terrorists are very “black and white” in their thinking. They often have a belief that if you do not agree with their values you deserve to die, even if other innocent people die also. Religious extremists and political extremists are not dissimilar in their “black and white,” “right or wrong” attitudes and values. They can be quick to anger with opposition and when they “act out,” headlines are made. For rational people who understand the value of compromise, this is very scary. As our world continues toward political and religious polarization, violence and angry outbursts will escalate.

There is an appropriate place for anger. There are appropriate ways to express dissatisfaction, even rage, but extremism, from any political or religious mindset, needs to be expressed through the filters of rational and appropriate communication. The world is getting too crowded and too small for minority bullies to be running the show.

Mutual respect, tolerance of differing views, and the acceptance that other people’s beliefs can be shared, but not forced on non-believers, seems necessary in our shrinking and over-crowded world.

Be wary of preachers and politicians who are too extreme in their “black and white” sermons, with little or no regard for another opinion. These bullies can control followers and drive them to act unfairly in the mob that they create. Their most ardent supporters are often people who are under-educated or who are impulsive because they are not able to think clearly about available options that can create positive solutions to pressing issues. Stand up and use your brain so that you are not “controlled” and duped into behaviors that rational people of the world would find to be stupid or inappropriate. It is our responsibility to seek all the information on both sides of an issue before we make our final decision, as the framers of the constitution of the United States intended. (Do not rely on any one source of information and news coverage. It may require an effort that even looks outside our country’s media sources.) This requires time and effort, not the “follow the tail in front of you” approach as circus elephants are trained to do. If you can not find your way, safely, out of the narrow minded thinking, then at least do not react in a “knee-jerk” fit of rage to an opposing point of view. Perhaps, as a reasonable alternative, engage in tolerance. “Civics” as a study, and part of our education process, has largely been lost to educational budget cuts in the United States, and with it, the education regarding how the political process is supposed to work and how the voters are supposed to prepare themselves to make good voting decisions. To often we are lead to the polls by the demagogues who yell the loudest and control our media’s attention.

Please be responsible and do not be lazy when you choose your government, or, you are doomed to pay the price…