Friday, September 11, 2015

Civilization



Recently I have been thinking about civilization.  A small subject, no?  I got to thinking about the word civil when coupled with behavior, and how there is a hue and cry over the nation these days of the demise of civil behavior.  And there are times when I myself have observed some of the most uncivil behavior a human can see, and in the most unlikely of places! One person allowing a door to close in the face of another. One being pushing in front of another just to be the first to get there. The list could be endless of how we are eroding our civilization with uncivil behavior.  Perhaps it is the fullness of time for this society to become unglued, so that a greater can rise from its ashes. I cannot help but think that total disinte­gration may not be the only answer. There well may be a more sublime manner for the change to come to us. A manner in which gentleness and honor may usurp the the path of the rough uncivil path we seem bent on taking.

Historians have much to say about societies that have risen and fallen in the past. They point out the many factors as contributing to their demise. On careful reading it is to be noted that the one common thread that weaves through all the stories is that of people becoming more and more self centered and less and less caring of their neighbors. That is of course a violation of the golden rule. You know 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.  I have seen such blatant breaking of the golden rule in this society, that to see evidence of someone obeying it is the exception.   

Being civilized does not depend upon how many canals a people can build, how great their communication systems are, how many wonderful buildings they can build, nor on how well they dress. All of these effects can be seen in a civilized society. The one determinant of a truly civilized society is how the 'least of these' are treated within it. Now, it must be pointed out that I am not thinking about how people are governed, but how they interact with one  another in the most mundane of circumstances.

In North America, we have some of the most advance technology in the entire world. The systems we have built, to facilitate human interaction, boarders on the phenomenal.  Alas, we have used these wonderful gifts to alienate ourselves, not only from our neighbors, but the saddest commentary of all, from ourselves. We no longer truly know who and what we are.  Our definitions of ourselves hinge on the extensions of the accouterments we have acquired.  Those acquisitions may be things, degrees, children, membership in societies or clubs and the myriad ways we have of defining ourselves. Utterly missing are the connections we have with other people.

Over and above all that we can acquire in a life time, under what we own, around what we eat or wear, stand the eternal beings we are. These beings are in it for the experience, without which there is no true purpose for life. The experience can be either expansive, allowing for what we call growth; or it can be diminish­ing. When we allow ourselves to have expansive experiences, we become more than the sum total of what our acquisitions say we are. We become truly godlike. When we behave in uncivilized ways, we diminish not only ourselves, as if that we not enough, but we diminish the whole of humanity.  

The connections that hold us together are so strong that no act or thought is done in isolation. I know that it is common to think that our thoughts are private. We believe that our fellow kind have no way of knowing what we think about them. That is far from the truth. The world in which we live is built from our thoughts. Therefore, when those thoughts are against anything they form structures in our lives that we are obligated to experience in some manner.  With that in mind, civilized behavior is not only good for the body politic, but the safest most constructive acts we can perform. These acts will stem from our thoughts, which must be of the civilized variety for the acts to follow.
  
It always comes around to The Teachings.  In them are the tenets on which a whole life are to be built. That life consists of every thought or act that we perform. If we consistently perform uncivilized acts, we will in turn find ourselves in a world where the most barbaric of events take place. As we look at our world, we must ask ourselves how and where are we contributing to the anarchy that is steadily becoming apparent in it. 

 Are we civi­lized, or uncivilized? The thoughts we hold continually about how things are, how people behave, how things are going, they are the building blocks in the world we individually and collectively experience. The golden rule is the best guarantor of continuing civilization that I know of at this time. I am positive that as we progress we will find a more refined version of this rule. Perhaps that day will arrive when we collectively get to the place where we do not think of our neighbors as separate from who we are. At this point in our ongoing expansion holding others as separate from ourselves, but to be loved as ourselves, it is the best way that I know to maintain a civilization.

We can begin our New Civilization by treating those others as ourselves.