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"Prohibition? HA! They tried that in the movies and it didn't work."  

--Homer Simpson  


Ok, so Homer Simpson wouldn't be considered a deep thinker by most people, but this quote struck me anyway. I immediately thought of values and the difficulty many people have trying to live according to other people's values. Prohibition is a prime example. In 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution enacted one of the most sweeping efforts to change the social habits of an entire nation ever recorded in history. The values of one group of people were imposed upon the country in the form of a law.  


Value conflicts come in many disguises and from all directions. Consuming alcoholic beverages was part of the everyday life of Christians for hundreds of years, and nearly all used wine as a part of their celebration of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper. The Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol was a gift from God and made life more joyous when used in moderation. Opposing groups emphasized personal holiness, and even perfectionism, and campaigned for the outright elimination of alcohol. This, in turn forced a major change in Christian practices. But it wasn't only the values of the practicing religious; other groups were placed in a value conflict, too.  


When the law was passed, 1,520 federal prohibition agents were given the task of enforcing the law. Prohibition quickly produced bootleggers, speakeasies, moonshine, bathtub gin and rum runners. In 1927, there were an estimated 30,000 illegal speakeasies―twice the number of legal bars before Prohibition! Clearly there were conflicts raging over this issue. Al Capone, the notorious gangster of Chicago's crime syndicate, was dedicated to bootlegging and smuggling liquor during the 1920s and 1930s. His organization alone is estimated to have taken in $60 million dollars in one year. The cost of enforcing Prohibition was very high; eventually, in 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the law.  


You may be asking why I've chosen Prohibition to represent conflicts over values. Yes, there were religious conflicts over the idea, and many industries were in conflict too. For example, tea merchants were big supporters of the law because they saw new business opportunities. But the piece of this conflict that I am most taken by is the amount of force that was required to enforce one law--value--that was in conflict with other values. The federal government devoted tremendous resources to the task; supporters went to great lengths to promote and uphold their dominion over the country; and yet, the power of the opposing values won the day. Powerful stuff, these values!  


Values are the fuel for your engine. When you are living with the freedom to choose, coupled with a consciousness of your values, you are a force to be reckoned with. It's obvious to us when a value is in conflict due to the passing of a law. Riots and chaos are visible for all to see. But when a value is in conflict within you, the riot and chaos are just as powerful―they're just harder to identify.  


Our first experience with values is with the guidance of our parents. They teach us what is right and what is wrong; how to be "a good person" and what honesty and integrity are. They define these values for us in their words and actions, and support our adoption of them through the power of their position. As we get older, values are handed to us by many others: teachers, books, advertising and peers all chime in with their values and support our adoption of them with their influence and social acceptance. At some point there comes a conflict between what we hold as valuable and what we are supposed to hold as valuable. When that happens, the internal conflict begins. It can be expressed externally in many ways: low energy, depression, feelings of worthlessness, confusion and indecision, among others. I'm not suggesting that all depression and all indecision are the result of internal conflicts over values; there are many other possible explanations. What I o suggest is that, before thinking there is a deficit in you, or that you're not "a good person" because you enjoy something that others have said you shouldn't enjoy, check in with your values. Ask yourself curious questions and expect answers that are non-judgmental. Regardless of the true reason for your external symptoms, this peek inside will prove a worthwhile exercise and just might prevent you from looking any further for your joy.
What do you think? Can a person have different values than those of his or her parents? If yes, at what age will the conflict become apparent? Email me with your thoughts at Lorraine@Peacemaker-Coach.com. The thoughts I receive are very insightful.
"Prohibition?  HA! They tried that in the movies and it didn't work."--Homer Simpson  
Warmest Regards,
Lorraine Esposito

Life and fitness coach and author Lorraine Esposito has been featured in broadcast, print and online media and is a public speaker regarding personal leadership and empowered parenting to community and school-based audiences. Find out more about Lorraine at www.Peacemaker-Coach.com and her latest book at http://www.morningpeacemaker.com  The Morning Peacemaker, How to get your kids out the door on time without saying(nagging) a word. If you have kids ages 2 to 12 you'll LOVE this book 



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