More about the values
At the heart of the HVF’s publications are five principal values. They form the theme for each lesson and are expanded upon by a series of related values. For example, Honesty as an aspect of Truth; Compassion as an expression of Love; Contentment as form of Peace; Courage as an example of Right Conduct; and Appreciation of other cultures as a demonstration of Non-Violence.
Truth is eternal and unchanging. Being truthful means being completely honest in what we say, feel and do with others and ourselves. Children learn that an honest life is happier, simpler and easier, whereas being untruthful erodes their integrity and leads to conflict. Dishonesty is often caused by a fear of the consequences of openly acknowledging the truth. If children do something wrong, they know that by being truthful, they will have to face a telling off, anger and disapproval, so the immediate temptation is to evade the truth. In this dilemma, we need to help them to be honest, by extending love, patience and understanding to them. We can show them that misdeeds can be forgiven but dishonesty is far more damaging. Only through being honest and open can we foster healthy communication and trust. In turn, these attributes are the foundations of good relationships, which make a happy home.
Love, the supreme value, is more than attraction and fondness or romantic attachment. It is pure, unselfish giving that is unconditional. The greatest gift parents can give to their children is love and it is the most potent single force in their early development. Loving relationships in a family create an atmosphere in which children feel cared for, secure and valued. Love shows itself in many ways but it can be expressed as kindness, friendship, understanding, acceptance and sincerity. It urges us to embrace all those around us with compassion. In the spirit of love, we do not look to undermine, belittle and exclude others. Rather, we seek to see their good points, give them confidence and let them feel that they are much appreciated family members or friends.
Peace is a state of being quiet, calm and free from emotional disturbance. It is very different from the frustrated state of boredom or restlessness. Negative emotions, such as anger and frustration, which we sometimes hold inside ourselves, create conflict in the family but these feelings can be quelled by promoting peace within oneself. Peace cultivates the virtues of patience, gentleness, self-control and thoughtfulness. To be at peace with ourselves means that we accept ourselves as we are and give ourselves the chance to appreciate the positive elements of our lives.
Good behaviour is essential for a harmonious life, whether at school or at home. Parents are the first example from whom children learn and they are very quick to pick up on whether we practise what we preach. Practising Right Conduct develops the understanding that, in helping others, we become responsible and loving people, capable of working constructively with those around us. This embraces not just being a reliable helper but also assisting in the right spirit: kindly, respectfully and, when the occasion demands, courageously. Each act of kindness and consideration, which children perform, builds their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. Developing good habits builds children’s positive view of themselves and what they are capable of achieving, raising their sights and broadening their horizons.
If we are sensitive to life in all its forms, then we will learn to take care of everything around us. The absence of this appreciation leads to many of the most difficult problems faced in schools and society. Violence, whether in the form of bullying, racism or in gangs, is rooted in prejudice, ignorance and fear. It feeds on itself, brutalising and humiliating all those involved. Developing feelings of brotherhood or sisterhood towards all people, breaks down barriers and allows us to see all those around us as human beings, deserving of love, appreciation and respect. If we view people sympathetically, it encourages us to identify how we can be helpful to them, see their good qualities, celebrate diversity and find constructive ways to solve conflicts, which divide us. Through understanding and acceptance of others, we learn the values of fairness, equality, justice and solidarity for all people. Non-violence as a concept extends to all life around us, including a commitment to protecting our environment from harm through pollution and using the earth’s resources prudently.