National Values in Theory and in Practice

Manila Bulletin, October 24, 2012 | Go to article overview
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National Values in Theory and in Practice

Values are what people believe to be right or wrong; the ideas they deem important or unimportant. Group members share common values, some beneficial, others not. Why people hold on to positive values while others do not is a reflection of the differences on the way people think and live.

Values may be common to a majority of people in a group. But there may be values shared only by sub-groups within a bigger group. There are values by a small section of society that are against the existing values of the whole, and there are values by the majority that may be brutally against the values of a minority.


Values may be divided along class lines, degree of access to the economy and education, power in the political spheres, and more. The same person may behave in one sphere one way, and another way in another sphere. This is due to the fact that a person could belong not just in one group but also in other groups.

In general, the world agrees that diversity is acceptable. However, this same diversity is the mother of endless conflicts. Nonetheless, international law bans discrimination because of race, nationality, sex, or religion.

As history unfolds, social actors in society and national actors in international relations concomitantly engage in conflicts brought about by the differing values each one holds.


National values are the sum total of the values of the individuals and groups in a society. These include the clashes and cooperation all happening within. Once the sum reaches its totality, the national values acquire their own dynamic.

These national values may be so powerful to influence a nation to pursue particular goals, from single-mindedness to achieve progress, to untramelled apathy; from conscious pursuit of national development, to unprecedented mediocrity; from catastrophe unleashed against others, to passionate self-annihilation.

The values of a country are not permanent, but neither is it easy to change. It may change through time, either influencing economic and cultural developments, or vice versa.


The national values of the Philippines are enshrined in the Constitution of the people.

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