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Putting away holiday decorations a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about value. Many of the ornaments are homemade by my sons or other relatives. They have no value on the open market, but to me they are priceless. If you look up the word “value” in the dictionary it has many meanings. It seems to me that things we value fall into three categories: Monetary, Sentimental and Cultural.

Monetary Value

Much of our life is spent thinking about and working for monetary value. People go to work most days to earn money which we then spend, invest or save. We worry about the value of our homes as the market plummeted even if we're not planning to sell.

Today it is the dollar in the U.S. and Canada and the Euro in Europe that is valued. Throughout time the item would have been salt, silk, elephant tusks, cheese, bullets and gold. Manhattan was supposedly purchased with beads in the 1800's.

Whatever society agrees if valuable and trades with has monetary value.

Sentimental Value

When we woke up to fire evacuation orders a few years ago, I didn't worry about any possessions with monetary value. Other than my family and pets what I really wanted to take was photos. Pictures of our five kids growing up could never be replaced. All our electronics could.

The ornaments I mentioned earlier only have sentimental value to me and my family. No one would buy them in a garage sale no matter how low the price. The value to me is because of emotional or personal associations with them. It seems that the older you get the more importance is placed on sentimental versus monetary value.

Cultural Value

A reflection of a society's cultural values can be seen in the laws they pass and the government. Americans value free speech (although we often battle over it's limits) which was identified as a right over 225 years ago by the founding fathers. Western societies value directness while Eastern groups might find it rude.

Just as the items we use to trade with have changed from salt to dollars, cultural values change over time as well. We no longer reserve Sunday for church and family. It's rare to find a store or restaurant that isn't open this day.

People value that which means something to them for various reasons. What value categories do you have?

Photo Credit: Urban Woodswalker

About Kay Lynn

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1 comment add your comment

  1. This may be duplicating cultural values, however I would add family values. It is s very important to me for a variety of reasons. I place my family first. It is important for me to have a good relationship with my children. Our children are adults (37 & 33), however we talk to each other several times a week. Our relationship is mutual, they still learn from us and we learn from them.