Critical value theory: a substitute for CRT?

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America is divided. Critical Race Theory is right about this. However, the CRT fails as a tool to satisfactorily explain and resolve divisions.

There is a better tool for understanding and healing divisions in America today if we pay attention to American values ​​rather than American race and color. Let’s call this tool Critical Values ​​Theory (CVT), which states that America is divided by the values ​​that are dear to Americans.

Not all Americans have the same values. A fundamental distinction between race and values ​​is that a person’s race is fixed and unchanging over their lifetime, whereas their values ​​may change over time. Therefore, CVT foresees today’s divided America becoming less divided if and when our values ​​change.

Seven values ​​that divide us

The seven major values ​​that divide Americans regardless of race and color are:

Value 1: Faith in God
Value 2: Paternity
Value 3: Education
Value 4: Respect for law and order
Value 5: Work
Value 6: The role of government
Value 7: Human Sexuality

The following table lists the extremes of the seven values. The table shows how extreme values ​​are mutually incompatible and divisive.

Americans Opposing Values ​​Chart

Value An extreme of value The opposite extreme of the same value
1. Faith in God

I will live by faith, I will raise my children to live a life of faith, and I will live in obedience to the teachings of the Bible or other scriptures.

There is no God. I don’t believe in any god.
2. Paternity Fathers are essential to the development of children to reach their full potential. The role of fathers in the family is highly valued. Fathers are irrelevant to the development and growth of children. My children could do well in life without their father.
3. Education Education is essential to my success and that of my children. I will devote my energies and resources to the educational excellence and achievements of my children. My children’s education is paramount – I will use expensive private education or demand excellence from public schools.

I can’t do much for the education of my children. My children’s public school will take care of their education.

4. Law and order By my example and by my teaching, all my children will always respect law and order. Crime of any scale is unacceptable. Obeying law and order is customary. The law and order system is aligned against me and my children. I will defy the police and the law and teach my children to do the same. Sometimes the crime is justified if I or my children commit the crime.
5. Labor Work is the secret to success, achievement and fulfillment. I will ensure that all my children learn to have a positive attitude towards work and to engage in work and its rewards. I want my children to accept hard work and never complain about work. The job doesn’t really interest me. I see no value in work. When I work hard, it benefits my employer, but not me or my family.

6. Government

The government is there in an emergency, but my family members and I are learning to depend on ourselves to move forward in life and prosper. Government can be intrusive, and so I want less government in our lives. The government is wasting taxpayers’ money.

I can’t do much for myself or my family. I need the government to take care of me and my family.
7. Human Sexuality Traditional and Christian values ​​based on a lifetime commitment to a man or woman of the opposite sex. Sexual intimacy within marriage only. Everything is fine. No rules.

Why not ditch the CRT and adopt the CVT?

The table above captures the obvious: there are extreme differences in the values ​​that Americans hold. As evidence, consider how our political parties line up on one extreme or the other to get votes. Therefore, our political parties are very distant from each other — our values ​​separate them.

Is it time to embrace the values-based Critical Values ​​Theory (CVT) that can replace CRT in explaining and healing American divisions?

Paul Swamidass, PhD, is Emeritus Professor, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. After three decades of teaching and publishing as a professor of business management at various universities, he retired from Auburn University in 2016. He occasionally teaches biblical leadership for Kerusso Institute for Global Leadership. His latest book is Greater Things: The Qualifications of a Biblical Leader, Vide Press, 2020. He and his wife, Nimmi, worship at Redwood Chapel Community Church, Castro Valley, CA.


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