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Desire That Clashes with Values Equals Conflict


“Desire That Clashes with Values Equals Conflict” by Joan Y. Edwards

Our values are what we prize about living. When your main character’s desires clash with their internal values or the universal values of the world, there is conflict. He becomes unhappy, disturbed, restless, angry, confused, depressed, and/or a myriad of other emotional states. During life your main character accumulated a list of personal do’s and don’ts; wants and don’t wants; likes and dislikes. These core values determine how he will act in certain situations.

For example:

  1. His desire to be in control clashes with his faith that God is going to provide.
  2. His creativity clashes with his following tradition.
  3. His desire for discipline clashes with his desire for pleasure.
  4. His desire for forgiveness clashes with his belief that he should have freedom of choice in the first place.
  5. His desire for honesty clashes with cheating on a test or lying to get a new job that requires more skills than he has.

He may offer these excuses to rationalize his actions to get what he wants even when it contradicts the values:

• Everyone is doing it. No one will find out.

• It’s part of my job.

• He started it.

• It won’t hurt anybody.

• They don’t pay me enough. I deserve this.

What are your main character’s core values? Test them during your story. Decide the order for his top two or three values. Then stack the world against him in situations that are bound to disturb his peace and tranquility for your story.

Aha! You say you don’t have the slightest idea of what values are shared by all people. You’re in luck. I did a little research and discovered a few answers for you.

I used the following five sources to find universal values:

1. Brett & Kate McKay. Art of Manliness.com: http://artofmanliness.com/2009/05/31/30-days-to-a-better-man-day-1-define-your-core-values/

2. Josephson Institute of Ethics – http://josephsoninstitute.org/MED/MED-2sixpillars.html

3. Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_value (S.H. Swartz list of values)

4. Hent.org. “Universal Values – Ethics:” http://www.hent.org/world/rss/files/ethics/ethics_values.htm

5. SF Johnson “Making Ethical Decisions:” http://www.sfjohnson.com/acad/ethics/Making_Ethical_Decisions.pdf

Six Core Universal Values

as deemed by Josephson Institute of Ethics

1. Trustworthiness

Honesty in conduct
Integrity
Truthfulness
Reliability
Promise Keeping
Loyalty is promoting and protecting certain groups  or people: husband, wife, employer, employee, country, citizen,
Sincerity
No deception
Avoid conflicts of interest
Safeguard confidential information

Threat:

Self-Interest

Self-Protection

Self-Deception

Self-Righteousness

Conflicting Interests

2. Respect

Civility
Courtesy
Decency
Good listener
Dignity
Self-Discipline
Self-Respect
Conformity
Obedience
Autonomy
Self-Government of village, state, or country
Tolerance
Acceptance
Accepts individual differences and beliefs
Judges only on character-behavior

Threat:

Intimidation

Violence

Coercion

Prejudice

3. Responsibility

Accountability
Pursuit of Excellence
Diligence
Perseverance
Continuous Improvement
Self-Restraint
Self-control, restraining passions and appetites
Discipline

Self-Direction

Threat:

Lust

Hatred

Greed

Fear

Blame

Claim being a victim

Claim credit for the work of  others

No self-discipline

Selfishness

4. Fairness

Fair Process
Open and unbiased process of gathering information
Seek out the truth
Impartiality
Make decisions without favoritism or prejudice
Equity

Do not take advantage of weakness, disadvantage, or ignorance of others

Threat:

Biased process of gathering   information

Seek lies to incriminate

Show favoritism toward an individual or group regardless of the facts

Take advantage of weakness, disadvantage, or ignorance of others

5. Caring

Forgiveness
Kindness
Service
Helpfulness
Friendship
Benevolence
Compassion
Physical
Mental
Social
Emotional
Spiritual
Financial
Balance

Threat:

Rejection

Abandonment

Not listening

Hatred

Prejudice

6. Citizenship

Knows laws
Obeys Laws
Informed on issues
Volunteer service
Conserve resources
Recycle and clean up litter
Use public transportation
Conformity
Universality
World at peace
World of beauty, unity with nature
Protecting the environment
Inner harmony

Threat:

Breaking the law

Apathy

Riots

Wars

There were other resources that gave other Universal Values that weren’t as prevalent as the six listed by Josephson’s Institute of Ethics. I combined the lists of S.H. Swartz and Brett & Kate McKay and other information given in Wikipedia.com. I added threats that could be facing a character (or a person in real life). I put them in categories where I thought they belonged. It was a personal choice based on similarity of purpose.

Five Additional Universal Values

 From lists of S. H. Swartz, Brett & Kate McKay, and Wikipedia

7. Control

Authority
Leadership
Dominance
Confidence
Independence
Self-reliance
Freedom
Power
Strength
Enjoying Life 

Threat:

Away from Pain/

Go to Pleasure

Dictatorship

Tyranny

Destruction

8. Education

Training
Achievement
Growth
Knowledge
Creativity
Reason
Wisdom
Social Justice
Equality
Peace
Beauty

Threat:

Away from Pain/

Go to Pleasure

 Injustice

Crime

Foolishness

War

Ugliness

Uneducated

Lack of funding

Lack of trained teachers

Lack of interest School

9. Spiritual Motivating and Stimulating Connections

Spirituality
God (not all have a believe in God)
Faith
Church
Reason for Existence
Self-Respect
Daring Activities
Exciting Life
Varied Life
Respect for Tradition
Openness to Change
Moderation
Acceptance of self and others
Humility
Devoutness

Threat to Spiritual Motivating and Stimulating Connections

Go Away from Pain

Go to Pleasure

 No goals in life

Boredom

Boastfulness

Rejection

Evil

Poor Choices

10. Personal Motivating and Stimulating Connections

Family
Friends
Marriage
Respect for Tradition
Openness to Change
Moderation
Community
State
Country
World

Threat to Personal Motivating Connections:

Away from Pain/

Go to Pleasure

Abandoned

Rejected

Aborted

Closed-Minded

Disrespect

Poor Choices

11. Security

Peace of Mind
Balance
Health
Fun
Happiness
Humor
Adventure
Cleanliness
Self-Confidence
Family Security
National Security
Stability of Social Order
Reciprocation of favors
Sense of belonging
Hope
Capability
Ambition
Influence
Intelligence
Self-Respect
Achievement
Fulfillment
Success

Threat to Security

Away from Pain/

Go to Pleasure

Mistreatment

Rejection

Abandonment

No ambition

Out-of-Balance

Brokenness

Insecurity

Instability

No education

Wrong influences

Failure

Not using intelligence

Uneducated

Hunger

Joblessness

Homelessness

Lack of clothing

Lack of money

Lack of cleanliness

Lack of order

Financial disarray

I hope that reading these values and threats will enable you to think of good conflicts and problems for your characters to deal with in your writing.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment. Which three values do you believe are most important? Which ones do you believe are most important to your community? Which ones do you believe are most important to a character you are putting into a story? Food for thought.

If you are not one of the 51 people who have subscribed to my blog, I would be honored if you would subscribe. There are two ways: one is to click the Follow button at the top. Another way is to click on the “Subscribe by email” button in the left-hand column.

Write or read something funny!

It’ll energize you.

Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

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8 Responses

  1. You amaze me! This is a wonderful collection and a valuable one too. I have a situation that tests character that I’d like to ask about. The example: A student wants to do his/her best (responsibility–pursuit of excellence/accountability) but is given a short turn-around time from the professor. What is the threat? unrealistic expectations on the part of the professor? I realize it could be procrastination if the student had put off doing the work, but that’s not the case here. I realize you couldn’t cover ALL threats but this is one I was thinking on. I look forward to your response. Keep the terrific posts coming and thank you for them. You’ve got us thinking–a very good thing.

    Like

    • Dear Linda, Thank you for the compliment. I am bowing humbly. When the student has a short amount of time to do a project, he will feel it is a threat to his SUCCESS, feeling that he deserves CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT, and this would be at risk. He will feel he has no CONTROL if he speaks up and asks for more time and the professor still says no. Then if he has other things that come up to give him even less time, he’ll really have a hard time, He is thinking in LACK. His CONFIDENCE and SECURITY has been breached. That he can’t do it. Once he figures out that despite all the things (at least three) stacked against him, hurdles that he has to overcome, he can do it, he’ll be able to succeed. If he is really a responsible student, FEAR and feeling overly GUILTY for not measuring up to the responsibility of completing the project on time. If he has other things weighing on his success in school – like a new bike or a new game. If HONESTY is one of his main values, then lying to his parents about having the project so he can go to some affair that was planned before the project was announced would also add fuel to his conflict. He would also feel torn between FAIRNESS for himself and other students as well. I hope that these ideas help you. Think about ways his plans could backfire on him. Enjoy writing your story. Know that the character you choose is completely capable of handling any problems you give him to overcome.

      Write or read funny things. It’ll light up your life.

      Joan Y. Edwards http://www.joanyedwards.com

      Like

  2. Joan –

    This is a wonderful list and just what I needed to see today.

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Jessica

    Like

    • Dear Jessica,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you liked the list and what’s even better that it’s just what you needed to see today. You’re very welcome. I hope you’ll read some of my other blog posts, too. Good luck with your writing. May it turn out even better than you could have ever anticipated.

      Do something fun for you today!
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  3. Hey lady, It’s amazing the energy you have to obtain all this information. Thanks, it helps a bunch!

    Like

    • Dear Juli,
      Aw, shuckins. You say the nicest things. I’m glad it is helping you a bunch. That is great news. Good luck with your writing. May every page fill with meaningful words and interesting characters and conflicts.

      Read or write something funny today.
      It’ll energize you!

      Joan

      Like

  4. This blog is more than i can take in!! I’m going to save it on a wiki so I can find it later. Thanks for pulling it all together!

    Like

    • Dear Carol, I’m glad you thought the information I gathered was worth saving and studying later. I appreciate your writing and letting me know. I hope you had a gret and joyful Thanksgiving.

      Believe in Yourself Submit Your Manuscript Today

      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

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