The Values of America Essay

The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This ideology was first introduced by the Bible through the words of the Old Testament. In the beginning of this world, the possibilities for treating humans with the greatest respect were ignored. Over time, honorable leaders have implemented guidelines on appropriate ways that people should be treated. The United States has evolved into a culture that respects each person and their rights in society.

These rights include examples such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religion, and assembly which are all intended to protect humans. As a result of this strong human rights system within our culture, our nation has become a prevailing political and economical factor. American citizens have united under one constitution and supported the nation to become as powerful as we are today. Compared to Japan and the former Soviet Union, the United States has proven throughout history to be a superior nation because of our cultural values.

Even though the Old Testament created the ideology of the sense of worth for human beings, it was not until much later that these rights were recognized. It occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when several philosophers in Europe proposed the concept of “natural rights,” rights belonging to a person by nature and because he was a human being, not by virtue of his citizenship in a particular country or membership in a particular religious or ethnic group. This concept was vigorously debated and rejected by some philosophers as baseless. Others saw it as a formulation of the underlying principle on which all ideas of citizens’ rights and political and religious liberties were based. The middle and late 19th century saw a number of issues take center stage, many of the issues we in the late 20th century would consider human rights issues. They included slavery, serfdom, brutal working conditions, starvation wages, and child labor. In the United States, a bloody war over slavery came close to destroying a country founded only eighty years earlier on the premise that, “all men are created equal.” Russia freed its serfs the year that war began. Neither the emancipated American slaves nor the freed Russian serfs saw any real degree of freedom or basic rights for many more decades, however.

Our society has developed a series of human rights that can not be compared to any other nation. The leaders of our country have collaborated over many decades to install a system that protects our human dignity. For example, freedom of the press has an obligation to inform the public, and to report on the criminal justice system. This prevents secrecy which is a dilution of human rights. Unlike Japan and the former Soviet Union, our society has implemented the “Rule of Law” which Mr. Bill Cohen mentioned, stating that authorities do not have the right to do what they please with humans. This also designates a series of institutions that enforces the rights that our country values. The morally strong leadership within America allowed for the expansion of agriculture and human independence from an early stage. This was the foundation to a country that has developed into world dominance. The other nations that have emerged from western civilization have not proven prosperous due to the immorality of their values. A key factor that has restricted these countries from succeeding is the values their leaders embody and enforce upon their people. “Nothing could stop Russia from becoming one of the greatest, soon the greatest, industrial power on earth. The policies of Lenin and, still more, Stalin—or rather the series of hasty expedients which passed for policy—has the net effect of slowing down that inevitable expansion, just as Lenin-Stalin policies enormously, and in this case permanently, damaged Russia’s flourishing agriculture,” (Johnson, 273). If a leader is not concerned with the worth of each human life, then there is no hope for any equality or unity throughout the country. For example, the former Soviet Union demonstrated a hierarchy among its people which lead to hostile behavior throughout the country. “The death-rate in totalitarian slave-labour camps appears to have been about 10 per cent a year,” (Johnson, 274).

Japan had to opportunity to evolve into a country with great power. It experienced a time of rapid economic growth along with a rising population. The countries prosperity was defaulted due largely to its leaders and corrupted actions. Paul Johnson referred to Japan as a country that “became infected with the relativism of the West, which induced a sinister hypertrophy of its own behavioral weakness and so cast itself into the vary pit of twentieth-century horror,” (Johnson, 177). Japan became this totalitarian country that participated in cruelty acts toward its people. The Japanese did not trust its leaders which lead to the destruction of the empire.

Until 1945, the country had no system of fixed law and the constitution itself was uncertain. Furthermore, it did not impose a definite system of rights and duties. “This absence of absolute lines between right and wrong, legality and illegality, law and disorder, made Japan peculiarly vulnerable to the relativism bred in the West after the First World War,” (Johnson, 180). As a result, Japan turned to Europe for guidance to lead their country. To strengthen themselves in a competitive world, they invented a state religion and a ruling morality which was known as Shinto. This lack of freedom proved later to be a great disadvantage to the country. The consequence of the militant leadership of totalitarian Shintoism was first the murder of individuals, and later mass-cruelty and slaughter. Johnson believed that “Japanese political parties were legal mafias which inspired little respect and offered no moral alternative to the traditional institutions refurbished in totalitarian form,” (Johnson, 183).

Compared to Japan, the United States has given its citizens the opportunity to develop its nation and give it great richness. Not only has our country experienced great economic and scientific advancements, but also increased the standard of living. I feel that this success is in direct relationship to the values of our country. American citizens have learned to demand a high level of respect from the government as do they regard those authorities with high admiration. This double standard should be the prime example for other western civilized countries to follow. The human worth around the world would increase greatly if each country had a value system like the United States. Cultures like that of Japan have not yet developed this degree of superiority because they have failed to change the disposition of their values. I believe that the cultural values a country embodies supports its government and overall well being.
Another example of a nation that embraced western civilization but involved itself in acts of cruelty toward humans is the former Soviet Union. It all began under the ruling of Lenin and continued through his successor Stalin. Johnson describes Stalin as a person that is “capable of unlimited violence to achieve his purposes, or indeed for no particular reason; and he sometimes nursed feelings of revenge against individuals for year before executing them,” (Johnson, 262). Johnson also expressed the importance to realize that “just as Lenin was the creator of the new autocracy and its instruments and practice of mass terror, so also there were no innocents among his heirs. All were vicious killers,” (Johnson, 262). Therefore, from the beginning the future of the former Soviet Union was headed for destruction.
Stalin had an inhuman logic of socialist power during the 1920s. He believed that in order for socialism to go forward, it must be accompanied with large-scale industrialism. Similar to Japan, a dishonored leader sacrificed the inherit right of human beings to accomplish his internal goals to be a leading nation. For instance, Stalin forced pressure on the peasants to achieve agriculture richness much like the United States was experiencing. Stalin’s tactics did not prove to be successful. “In January 1928, with no food in the town, no grain exports and increasingly short on foreign currency, Stalin unleashed his first attack on the peasants,” (Johnson, 268). Stalin has demonstrated yet again that prosperity does not result from eliminating the rights of humans.

As seen with countries such as Japan and the former Soviet Union, the values that are installed within a country are defiant to its wealth. The United States has formed a premier example of how other western civilized countries should treat its people. It has been proven repeatedly with nations around the world that a weak value system can cause a nation disparity. Without these human rights people are on the defense against their leaders and don’t have the unity and trust that a country needs to find success. Japan and the former Soviet Union have demonstrated such cruelty acts that stem from a lack of respect for every human being. I believe that the world will not reach its potential for human rights until every nation has adopted a value system similar to the United States.

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