In 1984, L Robert Kohls presented a short document that has been widely accepted, rewritten, debated and expanded on numerous times since that date. This patriot said, “Why not once more?” So, let’s list those values as he listed them and discuss them.
Power Over The Environment.
This was the first value he listed. Do we believe the environment is in our power? What are we doing with this power in 2019? In 1984, What did Kohls have to say? He said, “We do not have to leave anything to fate. We have gone to the moon. Surely we can rise above being fatalistic in matters of the environment. Americans refuse to accept earthly limitations.” Only Kohls knows what he meant by that statement, but this patriot believes in the best of America and our work with the environment.
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Americans see change as growth and progress. Whereas other cultures may view change as a threat to tradition. In the American mind, change is seen as an undisputable good condition. The more traditional a person is, the more they may be linked to a different culture. Many other societies value stability. While stability is not a bad thing, a society that is stagnant is not growing and moving forward.
Time and It’s Control.
As Americans we place avery high value on how much time we have in a day. According to Kohls, “Time for the Average American is of the utmost importance.” I don’t think that has changed in the last 30 years. In fact, it may be more so. Hence the increase of stress among all of us, especially our younger set. I’m not sure we are on the right track here. We may be racing around too much every day and every week and could use a tip on this one from our European friends.
Equality for most Americans is a cherished value. Americans believe all humans can succeed in America if they work hard enough. But is that true in 2019? Do all Americans have an equal shot like they did in 1984 or are things better for some groups than in 1984? And on a different take, when a person is in a restaurant one person’s money is as good as the next. It doesn’t matter if the money comes from a wealthy person or someone of little means, it all spends the same and both people are treated equally in our society and we pride ourselves in that fact.
Individualism and Privacy.
People in other countries and cultures have a difficult understanding that we value the individual person as unique and worthy. This is an American value. And privacy is respected over the good of the whole. All humans should be granted the right to privacy. There is some debate in recent years about letting go of privacy over our safety after 9/11. These values by Kohl were written before 9/11. We need to look back and see the values we used to hold dear before 9/11 and see if we should sacrifice our privacy for our safety. It leads us to the age-old question of what are we fighting for, if we sacrifice our rights for our safe havens?
In the United States, people take pride in being able to do things for themselves. This has been true since the founding of our great nation and it is still true today. Often people get sidetracked when they explore things that are not positive but by and large, pride is earned when people are able to accomplish things for themselves.
Competition and Free Enterprise.
In the United States, we value competition and free enterprise. This is how we bring out the best in people. However, in recent years, many people opt for cooperation rather than competition. Some business models do show they can accomplish growth using the cooperation method. However, when people are allowed to compete, they are able to come up with the best and brightest ideas in every area. This is the free enterprise method that is most approved in America.
Americans focus on the future. Sometimes, in this patriot’s opinion, so much, that we forget the lessons of the past. Setting goals and being focused on the new day is our way and we have hope there is always a better tomorrow. That is part of the American dream. It’s why the settlers went west. They believed “there was gold in them thar hills!” There was more in the future. Always moving forward to tomorrow. In contrast to other cultures that might actually believe taking the planning of tomorrow away from God is a sin. This tells you why our culture and others at times falls into discourse if our basic values are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
This is a lot like our relationship to time. We must find action to do to correct whatever is wrong. Or we should be busy with…something. As a rule, Americans plan and schedule a very busy day and feel guilty if they do not. We are hard-wired to do so by our parents who were hard-wired by their parents and so on. It’s an American thing. We plan very little time for leisure into our days. We now have terms such as “burnt out”
“workaholic” and more to describe what we do to ourselves. Again, we could take a lesson from our neighbors to our South and our European friends and plan more leisure into the day and work weeks.
This has continued to be true as time has progressed. In 2019, we are even more informal than in 1984. If you visit another country such as in Western Europe, for instance, the formality will be glaring if you are paying attention. Listen to the manner in which we talk and dress. Hopefully you will have taken some tips on how to pack when visiting another country, but the distinct way we talk is often far different than the way the English language was meant to be spoken. For instance, in England, they do not say, “can’t” but rather will go ahead and say, “cannot.” There are no shortcuts in wording because that just isn’t appropriate. This patriot isn’t saying we’re improper. We just are not as formal in our dress and speak as other countries and cultures. It is a fact as a rule.
Directness, Openness and Honesty.
Americans usually deliver information in a direct manner, even if the information is unpleasant. Other cultures may engage in small talk and weather, etc. before getting into the business of the needed conversation. This is good for us as Americans to know when dealing with people from different countries. We do live in a global society that is only a large as the Internet. We buy and sell in a global economy. When talking online with others, it is nice to understand their guides for acceptable conversation before jumping right into the nuts and bolts of business interactions.
Practicality and Efficiency.
Americans are known for being efficient and practical. We try to make decisions based on their own merits rather than the emotions of the situation. Although we can’t always do this on a situation by situation basis, we take pride in doing so when we can.
This has changed somewhat since 1984. There are people who value a more minimalist lifestyle and even those of us who like our things cannot resist the decluttering and tiny house living posts on Pinterest.
In 1984 there was more emphasis on the status of what we were able to accumulate rather than how well we were using those things. Now the emphasis is more on quality of enjoyment your gain from your things. All the advice on deciding whether to purchase and keep material things is supposed to rest on whether the item brings your heart joy. The emphasis is also on buying used upcycled products as well. Shabby chic is a style and a way of life for material possessions in 2019 and this is not going anywhere soon.
Our basic American Values as outlined by L Robert Kohls in 1984 have not changed in nearly 30 years since written. It was a reflection of our values over the entirety of our nation’s history. Our values are consistent, true, and steady. Look back over the list and see where you land. This patriot finds myself someplace in every single value, and I bet you do too.