Universal Values Allow Groups with Different Beliefs to Live Harmoniously

Fagjun | Published 2017-03-10 08:48

What exactly is it that divides us?

A study has found that different social groups can and often do coexist harmoniously if they adhere to universal values.

Conflicts that stem from ethnic, religious, or ideological differences between distinct social groups pepper human history. However, it seems that the fear of mistreatment is what causes distrust of people different from ourselves. We fear that people different from us may cause us harm or treat us unfairly. This means that specific differences don't cause social divides, but rather the fear that others will not uphold universal values.

So what are these values? According to the research, these values are ones that protect the autonomy of others. Participants in the research cited fairness to be of importance. An aversion to causing harm is another.

The study found that different social groups are willing to coexist as long as they all adhere to universal values. It's therefore not a matter of having one group believe in the same specific values that another group does. It's more a matter of upholding a general set of morals that compel people to treat each other fairly.

Ethnic and Religious Coexistence

The researchers interviewed hundreds of participants to come to their conclusions. To analyze how sectarian groups interact, the researchers interviewed 376 Christian, Sunni, and Shiite students from the Lebanese American University. For an analysis of how ethnic groups interact, the researchers interviewed 100 Berbers and Arabs in Morocco. Finally, the researchers interviewed 362 New Yorkers about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to analyze ideological divides.

The results of the interviews were quite interesting. The respondents from Lebanon and Morocco answered questions about how comfortable they were about living in the same society as people from another religious or ethnic group. They answered that as long as the other groups valued the autonomy of others, coexistence was possible.

The Essence of Universal Values

The respondents from New York, meanwhile, answered a different set of questions. Researchers spoke with respondents that held either a liberal or conservative ideological standpoint. The findings here were compelling.

Let's say that a controversial issue comes to a resolution that favors the specific values of group A. Group B will then perceive that they and group A have different universal values. However, each group does not perceive differences in their own specific values and those of the other group. This means that it's not specific differences that divide people. Rather, it's the fear that the other group's actions may cause harm or unfairness.

Therefore, harmonious socialization between social groups with their own sets of values is well within the realm of possibility. Ultimately, universal values hold more weight in the greater scheme of things than the specific values of different groups.

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