Crises and Value Calls

There have to be rules, for no game is worth playing without rules. And that applies always and everywhere. After all, even the universe obeys certain rules. Rules are important for individuals, for families, for organizations and for societies as a whole and this is due to the fact that rules define how and at the same time how not to act, in order to fulfill their purpose. In other words, rules set limits to what can be considered acceptable and what cannot. Simply said, not all means can be justified by ends. There have to be ways that are appropriate and ways that are not. In this respect, even war must have rules and it does!

Rules do not answer any “why” or even any “what” questions. They only answer the “how” ones. Rules are therefore important for defining the form of human activity and not it’s function. They are no substitute to purpose. They are not a substitute to action. They are much more humble. They have to be there in order to make human activity interesting and efficient, at the same time. Form cannot produce function. But it can produce the environment in which function can flourish!

Rules are humble but they can be noble too! And nowhere else is this more profound, than when it comes down to values. Values are axiomatic. Values cannot be proven. They can only be believed. There can be no measurement of values. For they represent attitudes, not behaviors. Undoubtedly,they are abstract. They simply have to be. And in this way, they are rarely called into action. In a sense, they seem to lie deep. And deep is dark. But values are not dark at all. They shine when they need to be called upon. And that mostly happens when the way forward is so dark that no way can easily be figured out.

Values act as shiny beacons when decisions have to be made without any facts at hand, without any previous experience, without any proof of the right way forward. They just shine in times of crises. The recent experience of the pandemic has made that obvious. There were governments for which the course of action was just so obvious. And it was so obvious because their decisions were driven by their values, whatever those values might have been. Simply, the axiom was there and axioms do not require any proof. Trying to prove what cannot be proved, introduces unwanted delay in decision making, as well as unnecessary back and forths and therefore confusion during implementation. Values therefore, act as fight or flight reactionary, or as a shoot first aim later, mechanism.

Value calls do not make sure that battles, or even wars will be won. They will, however, make sure that they are fought according to what is believed! And it is important to fight battles according to what is believed, even when battles or even wars are lost!

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