Such a weighty title for this day's post. Perhaps a little pretentious, maybe somewhat overbearing, but I have a few concepts to present to you all that I certainly consider exciting (well, I am a creature of the mind, and intellectual constructs tend to excite me).
This essay came about as a result of the aforementioned conversation with my friends Paul and Dave. The reason it has taken so long to write will become apparent as you, the long-suffering reader, notice the length of this essay. Bear with me, though. I am hopeful that the effort on both your part and mine will be worth it in the end.
The general aim of this essay is to break apart and study the basic structure of societies, with the particular aim of trying to define Universal Values that should be adhered to by all of humanity. I am expecting to fail in the aim of defining Universal Values, as it is a problem that has vexed the greatest thinkers of our world for millennia, but at least I hope to draw attention to the fact that said definition should be paramount in the continued evolution of society. I further postulate that continued evolution of human society can only come about through the establishment of a world society.
I would like to quote one of my favourite poets (myself) when I say that "I am an empty vessel, into which are poured my own thoughts and those of others, to ferment the broth of understanding". As such, I would be the first to admit that I know little, and can gain a better understanding of the universe and our place in it through engaging in discussions with others.
Humans build communities. That is a universal fact. We, like the bees and ants, are social creatures. We crave it and create it, and live in it every day.
Society is the underlying structure of these communities that we build. It is too large to be noticed most of the time. We don't think about it, absorbed in that miniscule part of society that is our lives (I have this image of Morpheus standing in front of me with those cool nose-glasses, holding a blue pill and a red pill out to me and saying "You cannot be told what Society is...").
What we often fail to see is that our lives are shaped in a large part by the society in which we live. What we must never forget is that our society of and by itself is not perfect, in fact nowhere near it, and the reciprocal relationship is completed in that we have an obligation to effect changes in that society to help improve it for everyone.
Another important point to consider is that the world is still a much-splintered entity, and while some steps have been taken to unify disparate structures towards a greater whole, much work still needs to be done before a world society can be established. Important steps to this end in the modern age include the formation of the United Nations, the European Union, and the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague (though the legality and mandate of this is disputed).
As always seems to be the case, the movement towards a world society has met with much speedier progress in the fiscal arena than in the legislative, religious or ethical arenas. Globalisation has, as a result of abuses by greedy corporations, become a tainted and much maligned term. However, it should be noted that, in this humble blogsters opinion, true globalisation towards a world society (not just in the business sense) needs to take place for human beings to be able to continue their evolution, and for the betterment of the whole planet.
Society values are a crucial part of the structure that binds us all. They define the principles by which we live. Why is it then that we do not have a clear idea of what these values are? Perhaps it is because we do not give them the attention that they deserve.
Society values are sometimes talked about (and should be talked about more). Every now and then, "Australian Values" comes up as a blip on the media radar, and politicians will be asked about them. They'll dredge up a few tried and tested words like "Mateship", pre-approved by their spin doctors and speech writers. They'll visit Gallipoli or walk a few steps along the Kokoda trail, to prove that they embody these values, and then they'll go back to what they were doing before, which is worrying about securing the next term in office. Well, there it is – it stands as a self-evident fact that we can't rely on modern politicians to guide us on the path of defining society's values and making sure we live by them.
So where do we turn to define the supposedly indefinable? Well, the answer to this is fairly simple in the first instance – we should turn to each other and discuss, for only then can we explore what is important to each of us and to others. Only then can we start to reclaim society in that quaint old fashion of "by the people for the people".
Values are more than words on a page. They have to be lived and breathed each and every day of our existence, otherwise they stand for nothing. Token gestures will not do.
A (not-so)-Brief History Lesson About the Development of Society Values
The definition of societal structures and society values has made some major steps forward throughout history. Quite often, these are inextricably linked with the development of democracy, as this is the primary form of mass governance where the masses have some form of representation, and a forum for their voices to be heard. Some of these are covered below (with a nod to Wikipedia for some information).
- Many Sumerian city-states in Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq) are believed to have started with a form of democracy, but elected dictators in times of war that later kept power to become permanent monarchies.
- One of the earliest instances of civilizations with democracy was found in ancient India, even during the times of the Rigveda, probably the earliest Indo-European literature and one of the most sacred books of the Hindus. The states mentioned are mostly monarchies, but with two democratic institutions called the Sabha and the Samiti. The Sabha (lit., Assembly in Sanskrit) is widely interpreted to be the assembly of the elect or the important chieftains of the tribe, while the Samiti seems to be the gathering of all the men of the tribe, convened only for very special occasions.
- Athens is among the first recorded and one of the most important Western democracies in ancient times; the word "democracy" (Greek for "rule by the people") was invented by Athenians in order to define their system of government, around 508 BC, after the proposals of Cleisthenes. In the next generation, Ephialtes of Athens had a law passed severely limiting the powers of the Council of the Areopagus, which deprived the Athenian nobility of their special powers. Athenian democracy was based on selection of officials by lot. The assembly of all male citizens in Athens voted on decisions directly. Elected officials did not determine decisions — giving decision-making power to elected officials was considered by the ancient Athenians to take away the power of the people, effectively making the state an oligarchy.
- The founding of the Roman Republic in 510 BC, though with a flawed constitution. After years of conflicts between the leading families and the plebeians, the plebs forced the senate to pass a written series of laws (the Twelve Tables) which recognized certain rights and gave the plebs their own representatives, the tribunes. By the 4th Century BC, the plebs were given the right to stand for consulship and other major offices of the state.
- The Magna Carta is an English charter issued in the year 1215. Magna Carta is arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today. Magna Carta influenced many common law and other documents, such as the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, and is considered one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.
- Renaissance humanism was a cultural movement in Europe beginning in central Italy (particularly Florence) in the last decades of the 14th century. It revived and refined the study of language (first Latin, and then the Greek language by mid-century), science, philosophy, art and poetry of classical antiquity. The "revival" was based on interpretations of Roman and Greek texts. Their emphasis on art and the senses marked a great change from the medieval values of humility, introspection, and passivity.
- Many countries have a constitution, written by their "founding fathers", to guide the societal structure.
- The Geneva Conventions were set up to define standards for international law relating to humanitarian concerns. These four treaties primarily cover the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. The adoption of the First Convention followed the foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863. In the modern age, 194 countries have ratified the Geneva Convention, which requires all signatory states to enact sufficient national laws to make grave violations of the Conventions a punishable criminal offence. Unfortunately, recent actions by the United States in particular has brought into the spotlight the difference between living the law and merely paying lip service to it.
- Interpol is the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 to facilitate international police co-operation. 186 countries are members of Interpol. In order to maintain as politically neutral a role as possible, Interpol's constitution forbids its involvement in crimes that do not overlap several member countries, or in any political, military, religious, or racial crimes. Its work focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism, organised crime, war crimes, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, Intellectual Property crime and corruption. Whilst not having any direct responsibility for the definition of society values, it is an important step towards a world society police force, and provides a model for the crucial requirement of law enforcement on a global scale.
Guiding Forces Within Society
There are certain guiding forces within our society that stop it from splintering into anarchy and chaos. Not all of these forces are positive. As far as I have been able to determine, these forces fall into the following categories:
- The rule of law
- The Constitution (for those countries lucky enough to have one)
- Civic responsibility
- An often undefined and unspoken set of values
- Empathy and altruism
- The natural human urge to form communities
- Common goals
- Racial dynamism
- Social dynamism
Positive Guiding Forces
The rule of law
The rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance.
The contrast between the rule of men and the rule of law is first found in Plato's Statesman and Laws and Aristotle's Politics, where the rule of law implies both obedience to positive law and formal checks and balances on rulers and magistrates. As defined by Plato, the rule of law is grounded in divine reason and so inherent in the natural order. It continues to be important as a normative ideal, even as legal scholars struggle to define it. Thomas Aquinas (an Italian Roman Catholic priest in the 1200s) defined a valid law as being one that:
- Is in keeping with Reason
- Was established by a proper authority
- Is for the purpose of achieving good
- Was properly communicated to all.
In my opinion, the rule of law should exist to enforce a well-defined value set, and to protect the members of society from anti-social and illegal activities. One of the most important parts of the rule of law is that there should be provision for constant vigilance, self-checks and the ability to reform laws by society members in order to ensure that legislative acts do not transform into prejudicial or authoritarian tools. As such, the rule of law should be adhered to, but constantly questioned to ensure its validity.
A Constitution defines the fundamental political principles, and establishes the structure, procedures, powers and duties of a government. Most national Constitutions also guarantee certain rights to the people.
As with the rule of law, Constitutions should be adhered to, but constantly questioned to ensure their validity.
The concept of civic responsibility at times borders on some of the socio-political ideals of communism and socialism. As a member of a civil society, it is the responsibility of those members to ensure that their actions or inactions do not run counter to the continued well-being of the society at large.
There are essentially two models for civic responsibilities – voluntary and forced. Depending on the nature of the responsibility, the importance to and impact on societal structures, and the willingness of suitable numbers within the community to take up the responsibility, either one or the other model should be applied.
For example, it is my opinion that if you are able to work, you should do so. I consider this to be a civic responsibility. Either through the direct fruits of your labours or through the taxation of income derived from those labours, you help to support the society that supports you and people who are unable to work.
If you are unable to work, then provision should be made through welfare structures to support you until such a time (if ever) as you are able to contribute in a meaningful way to society. It is my opinion that a vast majority of people who claim to be unable to contribute are incorrect in this assumption, and are doing so only because of laziness or some other personal defect. If you are able to work and choose not to do so, that is okay, just don't expect the public purse to pick up the tab. In this instance, I see no problem with a forced civic responsibility model being applied, as shown in the "Work for the Dole" scheme currently in place in Australia.
Volunteerism is also a major part of civic responsibility, for there are many services and structures in society that rely on donations of time, money and labour from people "out of the goodness of their hearts". The nature of the voluntary work can be as diverse as forming or joining a community group to bring arts and craft to the masses, becoming a volunteer fire fighter, or helping out in a soup kitchen for the homeless.
Major motivations for volunteerism include the following:
- To help others in the community
- To do something worthwhile
- Personal satisfaction from doing something good
- A way to be active
- To learn new skills
- To gain work experience
- To use existing skills or experience.
Religion is a very complex guiding force in society. To a great many people, it provides a fundamental (and for a few, a fundamentalist) view on moral issues of right and wrong, rights and responsibilities.
Some of the most important guiding principles of morality can be found in the holy books of the religions of the world. As such, they are an essential part of the societal structure that holds us together, despite the friction between the major monotheistic religions that constantly seems to see us teetering on the edge of oblivion and fracture.
Problems can also often arise in the interpretation of the written word, no matter how well intended the original principles were. For example, the conflict between Sharia law practised by Muslims in non-Muslim countries has led to much trouble and misunderstanding. A full discussion of the issues related to the interplay of religious and societal forces is outside the scope of this essay, so I will refrain from delving too deeply into this. Frankly, it would double the size of this already long essay, and I am scared to dig too deeply into something that I personally do not ascribe to, being an agnostic individual who believes that to question is much more important than to blindly accept the status quo on faith alone.
To be harshly analytical, I believe that religion is often more about mass population control and power than it is about the guiding light of virtue illuminating our path through life. Radicalisation and fundamentalism in the three major monotheistic religions of the world seem to be on the rise, adversely affecting the stability of societies everywhere.
An often undefined and unspoken set of values
As alluded to in the section on society values above, there seem to be an often undefined and unspoken set of values that guides out societies. These have been evolving for as long as the first two people decided to stick together in the mists of antiquity. They continue to evolve, and what one generation sees as the right and proper values to live their lives by is not necessarily that which other generations see (or even recognise).
One of the biggest gripes I have about the Political Correctness movement of the past 20 years or so is their blind assumption that the past should be sanitised and history rewritten to fit the current age. Well, I say that this is one of the greatest evils in society, since we can never measure where we are or map out where we wish to be if we do not acknowledge or have knowledge of where we came from.
By recognising the skeletons in our closet, we move that one step closer to ensuring that we do not endlessly repeat the mistakes of the past. Another way to ensure continued evolution of societal structures is to engage in open discussion and investigation of these often undefined and unspoken value sets.
The Scientific Method, which underpins all of science, is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning, the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies that test these hypotheses for accuracy. These steps must be repeatable in order to predict dependably any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many hypotheses together in a coherent structure. This in turn may assist in the formation of new hypotheses, as well as in placing groups of hypotheses into a broader context of understanding.
Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so it is available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called "full disclosure", also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
A true scientist is every bit as happy regardless of whether a properly conducted experiment disproves his life's work or proves it. The search for more accurate hypotheses and theories, for more complete knowledge, is the paramount goal.
Now, I am a man of science. There is no denying that. I wholeheartedly embrace the basic defining principles of the scientific method, which value the constant quest for greater understanding. Through questioning everything around us, rather than making blind assumptions, we slowly and painfully improve our body of knowledge. This is the greatest differentiator that I see between religion and science.
There is some pressure in modern society because of a gradual move away from religion by many societal members. One criticism of science is that it has bred a godless horde of people who have nothing left to believe in. This is a short-sighted and incorrect view in my opinion.
I am however enough of a sceptic and realist to acknowledge that science does not hold all of the answers. A world without magic and mysticism is indeed a cold one, and as with everything in life, it is all about balance.
Empathy and altruism
The dictionary says it best – empathy is the ability to enter fully, through imagination, into another's feelings or motives, into the meaning of a work of art, etc. Altruism is the unselfish devotion to the interests and welfare of others, especially as a principle of action.
Through empathy and altruism, we are able to transcend the borders of our selves and identify with other people. They act as a foil to the inherent selfishness that exists within us all. As such, this is one of the most fundamental driving forces of society. Without empathy and altruism, a collective of high-mental-function creatures would be impossible
The natural human urge to form communities
As alluded to in the introductory section above, humans have a natural urge to form communities. Whatever the psychological or biological drivers behind it, this is an irrefutable fact. "No man is an island" describes it well.
An important part of forming communities is to come to some agreement about the societal rules and structures that must inevitably exist to ensure continued togetherness.
Even vastly disparate peoples can come together and form a societal structure if they have common goals that require the combination of people, knowledge, resources or other elements to achieve them. This can be particularly important in the early stages of society formation, but should not be discounted in any established societal or sub-societal structures.
The principles of freedom and opportunity are important forces in any society. As a driver for change or revolution, there is nothing like the lack of either to wake the masses from their slumber and force change, hopefully for the better. Depending on the interplay of other forces within the society in question, the drive for change can come quite quickly or take generations to gather momentum.
As shall be outlined later in this essay, the right to freedom and opportunity is a core Universal Value that should be codified and defended at all costs.
Racial dynamism & Social dynamism
Racial dynamism and Social dynamism are important factors not to be discounted. Different racial and social groups have differing levels of what is referred to as either racial or social dynamism. Some groups have a natural tendency to laze about in the sunshine, whilst others have a natural tendency to strive for their goals. These important differences should never be ignored when considering the underlying structure of societies.
It should further be realised that knowledge of racial and social dynamism is stereotypical in nature, and should not be applied blindly without consideration of individual factors, nor should it be applied blindly without consideration of other societal forces.
Negative Guiding Forces
The negative forces that hold society together are every bit as powerful as the positive forces, and are often used by unscrupulous societal governmental structures to ensure compliance when values are being eroded. A fine case in point is the current campaign of fear mongering amongst the Coalition of the Killing, justifying erosion of our personal liberties by constantly reminding us that the terrorist wolves are at the door, baying for our blood.
Apathy is the lack of interest or desire for activity. The general malaise of people when confronted by obstacles or societal problems (which may or may not be greater than themselves) is directly attributable to apathy. Too often as individuals, we become so entrenched in our ways of thinking and in our self-centredness, too indifferent to the state of affairs, that we neglect to care as much as we should about the big picture or those around us. "Ah well, there's nothing I can do about it, so I may as well not bother" is one of the greatest injustices on the face of the planet, for we should all realise that, given just the slightest latitude of freedom, we are empowered to affect the world around us and effect change.
Ignorance or lack of education also holds sway as a guiding force for society. In an ideal world, a society would be peopled exclusively by members able to apply knowledge, reason and wisdom in the formation and application of the rules that govern it. In the real world, the complex decisions required to ensure the health and fairness of a society are too often governed by misinformed and self-seeking motives, to the detriment of all.
In both democratic and undemocratic societies, unimportant issues are often brought to the fore in order to mask the more difficult issues that governing bodies fear to tackle, and people are deliberately kept ignorant in order to retain the governing bodies' unrivalled power.
Those in the know are all too aware that the last 3 or 4 elections in Australia have been fought on issues totally unimportant or beyond the realistic control of the political parties engaged in their usual triennial tussle for power. Whether or not John Howard will still remain as Prime Minister after the election, and whether or not Interest Rates would be higher under a liberal or labor government are absolutely trivial issues that act as a smokescreen when no real policies of note exist. Elections should be fought with clear policies that constructively address problems within society, not with hyperbole, invectives and trifling issues. The unfortunate truth is that ignorance allows governing bodies to get away with it.
Ignorance has a wider role to play as a guiding force for society than just during election times in democratic nations. An ignorant populace is not able to clearly identify and voice objections to unjust society structures, and so, as Shakespeare's Iago says – "...will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are."
Fear is one of the primal driving forces within us all. People living in fear are easily subjugated by careful manipulation of the understanding and application of that fear. Authoritarian governments use fear directly as a bludgeon to keep people under control. Surely Hitler's Nazi regime would not have continued to hold power for so long, were it not for the absolute power to spread fear that the SS and the Gestapo were able to wield on their own people and their enemies. Communist governments, as with all forms of authoritarianism, used fear in a similar fashion.
A more subtle use of fear as a driving force in society has reared its ugly head in modern times, though it has always been used in one form or another to keep the masses under control. During the Cold War, the democracies of the world touted Communists as the great boogieman, and were able to carry out misdeeds of epic proportions in order to "protect" us. When the Cold War ended, much thought was given to finding a new boogieman. With the events of 9-11, the new boogieman was served on a silver platter to the propaganda machines of the world – Terrorists.
As the "clear and present danger" of terrorist threats continues to loom like a dark cloud over our heads, our fear is fed by devious governments to justify the on-going erosion of our liberty and other society values. Keep them scared, and they will let you get away with such blights on society as the Patriot Act in the United States, or sedition and anti-terrorism laws here in Australia.
When (or if) the terrorist threat is ever neutralised, a new boogieman will be sought by the governments of the world, to justify their blatant shredding of society values.
Another of the driving forces within society is that of greed. It is responsible for a great conflict between the haves and have-nots throughout the world, both on an individual level and on a global level.
Gordon Gekko, in the 1980s film Wall Street, states the following:
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."
Gordon Gekko is wrong – greed is not good. However, whether we like it or not, it seems likely that it will never be eradicated from our collective psyche. It is an oft-presented maxim that if you were to redistribute all of the wealth in the world equally, it wouldn't take long before the same old inequalities re-established themselves, and this is perhaps not too far from the truth.
However, for as long as greed is such a powerful driving force in society, for as long as the developed countries of the world continue to live beyond their means, for as long as unsustainable practices are engaged to ensure obscene profits, no lasting peace can be achieved.
Individual Guiding Forces Within Society
There are also individual guiding forces that drive each and every one of us, usually in concordance with the societal forces, but sometimes in opposition to them. These guiding forces fall into the following categories:
- Personal philosophy/ethics and morality/life view
- Religious beliefs
- Values of right and wrong learned throughout an individual's life
- Biological and psychological feedback from pleasure/pain circuitry
- Empathy and altruism
- Personal drive (or dynamism)
- Quest for Wealth and Power.
All of the individual guiding forces are shaped by a complex interplay of forces both internal and external to the individual.
I will not deal with the above individual guiding forces within society in a detailed manner, as they should be self-explanatory, and also in order to keep this essay short (yeah right!).
Countries of the World, Unite!
Let me first start with what my definition of a country is. A country is an artificial construct that hinders the continued evolution of the world community.
The natural evolution of communities starts with a small group of people, who then go on to form a village. This village grows to be a town, or even a city. Support structures develop to keep pace with the growth of the community. Eventually, a number of separate town communities will join to form a province. This evolution continues until the community has grown to be a country.
It is my considered opinion that the evolution of society should not stop there. The countries of the world should unite to form a world community, for we are all one people.
Flag-waving nationalism can be a force for great harm in the world, where the interests of one group are held to be more important than the interests of another. Too often, it is used as an excuse to wage war on others. The inertia of the status quo and the resistance to new ideas are holding us back. The rich and developed countries of the world continue to live beyond their means, cutting ever larger slices out of the pie.
This is a fundamental problem and stumbling block. The pie (or world, to really drive home this particular metaphor) is only so big. It cannot grow beyond certain physical limits. When some parts of the world community continue to glut themselves on pieces of pie too big for them, then the rest of the world community suffers. This inequality must be addressed in order to ensure the betterment of all.
The evolution of the world community does not mean that we must give up all that we are, nor does it mean that we must forget the path that has been followed through history to get us to where we are. We should be proud of our differences, enshrining them in our hearts, but these differences should never be seen as a justification for the repression of others.
The establishment of a Universal Value set is in my opinion the one and only thing that will safeguard the rights and responsibilities of individuals and composite communities in the slow and painful evolution of the world community.
One of the greatest challenges that lays ahead is not just in the definition of Universal Values, but in gaining worldwide acceptance of them. Without the power to enforce the Universal Values, they will not mean anything, and for this to happen, the plethora of independent societies within the world must give up their sovereign rights and accede to the greater power. This is a difficult undertaking, fraught with much danger and many obstacles, but one well worth the effort.
An Attempt to Define Some of the Universal Values
It is my belief that there exists a Universal Value set that can be applied to all humans, regardless of sex, race, creed, beliefs, orientation or circumstance. Certain Universal Values are beyond discrimination and preferential treatment. I further postulate that it is our obligation to try to explore and develop our conceptualisation of these Universal Values, and then to work towards having them enshrined in our societies.
Any attempt to define Universal Values must recognise that there are two sides to the coin – rights and responsibilities. Any societal structure worth its salt must have as its basis the provision of human rights to all human beings. For this structure to be stable, these rights must be paid for with responsibilities.
Unfortunately, the cynic within me looks at the list of Universal Values below and sees them as somewhat naïve and unrealistic. However, I would like to counter that by kicking the cynic in the balls and showing him that defining and living by our principles is all-important if we are to progress in our evolution as social creatures. It is not naïve to believe that we can become more than we currently are.
The world society should have, as a minimum, the following Universal Values:
- To engage all society members in the definition of Universal Values
- To clearly communicate the Universal Values to all
- To question continuously the validity, fairness and application of the Universal Values
- To uphold and protect the rights of all
- To ensure responsibilities are met in a fair and equitable manner
- To mediate in matters of conflict and effect a resolution
- To apply knowledge, wisdom and fairness in all its dealings
- To act as custodians and protectors of this planet and its diverse ecologies
- To manage the needs of society and weigh this against the costs
- To spread joy, happiness and fulfilment
- To set goals
- To lead by example.
Every human being should have, as a minimum, the following rights and responsibilities:
- To claim their rights and pay for it with their responsibilities
- To live free and with opportunity
- To explore and develop their own consciousness
- To pursue their dreams
- To believe as their conscience requires in matters of faith
- To address wrongs within their own society without fear of retribution
- To question
- To voice objections
- To respect the rights of others to believe differently
- To take responsibility for their actions.