History, literature and scripture are observation platforms for people to identify and choose their values.  This is just as the scientific method uses observation to draw the basis for its hypotheses and proofs of evidence. 

In the Linkedin group for history teachers there is an ongoing discussion of the relevance of learning history.  Since literature is often based upon historical records or experiences, I believe the narratives of literature perform much the same function as history, at least in the context discussed here.  Obviously, scripture serves as well as an observatory of principles from which value choices are made. 

We often speak of the lessons of history.  We frequently quote verses from Shakespeare or passages from Hemingway.  However, what we often perceive originates not so much in what we observe as in what feelings and thoughts we bring to that observation in the first place.

As Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount, "The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But, if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6: 22, 23 NIV)

The observers of history take away very different conclusions from the very same historical incidents.  (Napoleon was quoted as saying that "History is a lie agreed upon.") The readers of Shakespeare do likewise.  The readers of scripture do the same. 

Nevertheless, we do draw conclusions from history, literature, and scripture.  When enough of us draw the same or similar conclusions, we can have a consensus upon which to build a cooperative society and economy. 

However, our American society is in chaos today because of a confusion of values.  These values have been choices that are often in conflict with each other and, at times, are mutually exclusive. 

I believe the reason for the chaos is that what we commonly bring to our observations is a choice to be non-dogmatic for the sake of avoidance of conflict.  If you are given to history, check out an ancient Roman philosopher named "Sextus Empiricus".  No kidding, that was his name.

He said words to the effect that we can have a peace of mind if we avoid conflict and gain peace of mind by challenging those who are dogmatic.  This is done by demanding proofs of their authority to make such standards for others to live up to.

However, how can we avoid conflict by simply ignoring the damage that some choices bring?  History, literature, and scripture all inform this consideration.  Observations on such questions give value to the principles which we can discover there.  We can resolve many conflicts if we are willing to accept truth with logic as well as compassion and find faithfulness to higher principles. 

PS:  You may wish to check out the values ed. courses at www.ce.fresno.edu/cpd/dale-knepper and the book Teaching Children to Value Principles at www.createspace.com/3989747.
 


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