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The 3 Pillars of the Cultural Values of the French Republic

and extended reflection to the corporate and individual level

 

In France, we just had our 2017 presidential election finished, which… quite shook the society, and I’m writing this article for the non-French national people resident or not in France, interested to know a bit more about the foundational values of the French people and the French republic.

 

1) The 3 Pillars of the Cultural Values of the French Republic

On the fronton of every town hall in France, you can readLiberté, Egalité, Fraternité”.

It stands for “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.

Making short a long story and the various debates and historical subtleties:
These 3 words are values words and originated
- in the 1789 French Revolution, and
- in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and from the
- Enlightenment century (age of Enlightenment), XVIII century

Originally, Liberty and Equality were defined in law terms.

Basically:

  • Liberty: you can do whatever you want until you don’t harm others
  • Equality: the law is the same for all, without any social condition, race or religious distinctions

Regarding Fraternity:

During the French Revolution, Fraternity had the vocation to gather all (French and non-French) the people who struggle for the accession or the maintain of the Liberty and the Equality.

 

Now, I propose you a slightly different angle regarding these 3 values:

LIBERTY without EQUALITY is the “Law of the Strongest”.
EQUALITY without LIBERTY is just another form of prison.
LIBERTY and EQUALITY without FRATERNITY is the reign of “Everyone For Himself

 

2) My opinion

Maybe I’m biased, because I’m French and grew up with these foundational cultural values, but I found them (particularly when I express them with this different angle) a pretty good foundation for building a harmonious society, where individuals can “blossom”

 

3) Living the values

Do the French society and individuals live by these values every day?”
Do the French society and individuals experiment these values every day?
Will our new president be able to make these values a tangible reality for all?
Do all French individuals believe and value these values?
Are all French individuals ready to fight to protect and make these values a daily reality?”
“Do all French individuals and French politicians really integrate these values in their core beliefs, plans and actions?”

 

The answers to these questions are another debate and would require serious inquiries.

 

4) Extending the reflection to every organization and individuals

However, as a coach, as a change facilitator/consultant, as a human capital practitioner, I can tell you that if an organization, an individual (wherever she/he is on the hierarchical ladder) don’t recognize some particular values as her/his own, don’t believe in some particular values, don’t tend to make them a reality, don’t integrate them in their plans and actions, THEN THERE WILL BE PROBLEMS!

THERE WILL BE LEADERSHIP/SELF-LEADERSHIP PROBLEMS.

THERE WILL BE PRODUCTIVITY/ “PRODUCING SOME FORM OF RESULTS” PROBLEMS.

THERE WILL BE “LOSS OF MEANING” PROBLEMS.

THERE WILL “LOSS OF DIRECTION” PROBLEMS.

I’m not saying that leadership/self-leadership, productivity and meaning issues are only the fact of values. I’m saying values are core components of these issues. And because of the nature of values -abstract words- values are often the least inspected aspects of the issues.

Problem solvers often tend to work on more “tangible” things.   
That’s where the flaw is: tending TO LOOK ONLY on the most tangible aspects of a given situation and forgetting to make tangible what is not tangible.

This is forgetting probably the most important aspect of any human being and of any organisation (made of individual human beings):

- we are not simple machines with “On/Off” button         
- our brain is way more complex than we can understand now     
- our psyche (mind or spirit if you prefer) is a pretty complex thing, full of non-tangible organizations, interrelations, abstract concepts, perceived reality, ideal reality, fears, hopes,…
- quite probably, most of the value, the worth we get from our lives (including our work) comes from our brain (as the organ) and our psyche/mind/spirit (as the non-organic part of ourselves).

It is a cliché to say that the world is becoming more and more complex, but … it’s pretty true.

And another true thing is more people are educated and more the work they complete requires complex tasks, more the world appears to them in its complexity.

As a consequence,

DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY OFTEN MEANS DEALING WITH NON TANGIBLE THINGS AND TENDING TO MAKE THEM TANGIBLE.

 

Xavier BARILLER

Read also: Value Means Nothing

 

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