Friday, October 06, 2006

Values and Culture

One of the stickiest issues when dealing with culture is that of values. As with all things, values are culturally driven. What seems to be a lie to one person may be a face saving maneuver to another. What is clearly stealing in one culture is considered borrowing in a different context. Those who see things in black and white criticize this form of discussion as compromise and promoting relativism. “It’s either a sin or it’s not,” one student barked at me many years ago. “Tell me then,” I replied, “when your wife asks if she looks fat in her new dress, do you tell her the truth or do you tell her she looks lovely and not fat at all?”

All cultures are bound by their prison of disobedience, in personal sin and to institutional law. What I find interesting in the study below is that, at least as it relates to national corruption, that the countries with the least percentage of corruption are nations with a Christian foundation. The top four countries are hardly considered evangelical nations (Switzerland is predominately Catholic, 16% of population attend church). Why is the U.S., considered by some to be the most Christian of all nations, number 10? Why are Russia, China and India at the bottom of this list? Is it because they are emerging nations using any means, by hook or crook to get ahead, or is there a fundamental moral wolrd view that does perceive bribery as being corrupt but merely being shrewd (as in nation 19) in business? What does this study say to you?

A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption

1. Switzerland (7.81)
2. Sweden (7.62)
3. Australia (7.59)
4. Austria (7.50)
5. Canada (7.46)
6. UK (7.39)
7. Germany (7.34)
8. Netherlands (7.28)
9. Belgium (7.22)
10. U.S. (7.22)
11. Japan (7.10)
12. Singapore (6.78)
13. Spain (6.63)
14. United Arab Emirates (6.62)
15. France (6.50)
16. Portugal (6.47)
17. Mexico (6.45)
18. Hong Kong (6.01)
19. Israel (6.01)
20. Italy (5.94)
21. South Korea (5.83)
22. Saudi Arabia (5.75)
23. Brazil (5.65)
24. South Africa (5.61)
25. Malaysia (5.59)
26. Taiwan (5.41)
27. Turkey (5.23)
28. Russia (5.16)
29. China (4.94)
30. India (4.62)
Source: Transparency International 2006 survey