Friday Flashback: Nine Universal Values and Some Lessons from Nature


In January 2005 I posted the chart above, which listed what I believe to be nine universal values that we all share, regardless of our social, political or economic worldviews, or even what species we belong to. There are clear evolutionary reasons why these values are so widespread — they equip us better for survival, as a species, and as a part of all-life-on-Earth. Our disagreements arise when we discuss how these values should best be realized.

The natural world has, in my opinion, collectively demonstrated not only the importance of these values to our health and survival, but provided us with clues on why they are so important and how to best achieve them:

Nature would suggest, I think, that the way to achieve Peace is not through One World, homogeneous, a single world political and economic and cultural system, but instead through a rediscovery of community, of diversity, of the richness and strength of cultural difference, of heterogeneity.

Nature would suggest that the way to discover Home and Connection is through community, not nuclear family or ‘household’ or nation-state, and that the land and environment and all the creatures on it that constitute our Home are sacred and inviolable and belong to no one.

Nature would suggest that Discovery and Learning are most effectively found by personal exploration, by trial and error, through all of our senses in the real world, not by reading textbooks or being told what is the truth and how to do things in classrooms or churches.

Nature would suggest that ‘Work’, making a living, is done most successfully and meaningfully by cooperatively and collaboratively, as equals, beholden to no one but one’s chosen partners, helping ourselves and others meet real, unmet needs.

Nature would suggest that Health is optimized through self-awareness, movement, paying attention to what is and is not good for us, and preventing rather than treating illness.

Nature would suggest that Playfulness and Awareness and Self-Esteem are part of the very essence and meaning of life and that our modern civilized world which trivializes and veils and manipulates our achievement of these things turns a world of joy into a prison and cripples us as human beings.

Somehow many of us have become convinced, ‘re-educated’ that happiness and well-being is connected to personal property, to consumption, to adrenaline-raising spectacle, to isolation from people who are different from us, to competitive success, to struggle against adversity, to escapism. We have forgotten nature’s lessons, and now become so disconnected from nature, and so bent on its destruction as an inevitable cost of our impossible search for perpetual growth of our own numbers and wealth, that it may no longer even be possible torelearn them.

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