We live by a variety of rules in our society. These conventions let us work collaboratively to achieve common goals. They also help us coexist in relative harmony. When they work well they can create standards of social conduct. As they are agreeable or acceptable to the community. And these standards provide a framework for understanding the actions of those around us.
Standards add to the sense of cooperation and common values a society has. Since it reinforces points of agreement among people each day. Which shows us that members of a community can get along; when they choose to do so. Though it may take a disaster or an emergency to bring the entire community together. But we are all motivated to maintain a given standard of living. So we will join together against threats to our common survival.
Yet human interaction has additional factors which influence our attitudes, beliefs and decisions. There are cultural standards which direct many aspects of our lives; such as diet. There are moral standards which concern how we treat others. Or ethical standards, such as how faithfully we apply drinking water guidelines. Even standards of safe hygiene that guide how we care for the sick or injured.
These practices are social norms. Such conventions do evolve over time as need requires. Yet they are nonetheless accepted and expected rules of social conduct. When we adopt and follow these conventions, it sets a benchmark or standard which people rely on. This provides them a level of comfort that they are not out of step with the society at large.
This is true whether it is a child who is learning how to interact with people. Or a visitor who is new to a social circle. Standards provide known structure and limits for a person’s communal engagement with others. Which gives insight into what a society expects of its members. Along with guidelines that declare the kinds of behavior that are unacceptable in their community.
As with any set of rules, there are always some who will not abide by these tenets. For they will seek an advantage by breaking them. Yet the most of our society supports and understands the benefit of having and keeping these standards. Because they make our lives easier, safer and more predictable. But also because when people work cooperatively they get more done.
However, standards are not always applied equitably or evenly to all members of the society. When that happens, it undermines communal cohesion. It also generates suspicion and foments doubt within that community. And that will lead to mistrust. Which then makes it harder to find common ground to do anything. It also reduces the confidence and participation some people invest in their society.
Thus standards work best when the community at large develops them. Since it demonstrates their preference about a given activity or action. So imposing abrupt changes on a society will be resisted. Especially if these new standards are also not vetted with the public. As rules are not effective when people don’t want or respect them. They must see that the new rules are in their best interest. Or that it benefits them in some way.
On occasion, standards will benefit some people while they simultaneously hurt others. A society will not remain healthy and productive, if and when such injustices persist. Therefore its members will have to choose which is more important. While they make that determination, lives are at risk. And their society either reinforces a current standard or creates a new one.
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J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc