The phrase "Civilised Society" is often used to point out the faults of "uncivilised members of human society". When I look at the current state of the evolution of humanity as a society, then I see very little that I call "civilised".
Here is one definition found:
A civilized society or country has a well developed system of government, culture, and way of life and that treats the people who live there fairly:
- A fair justice system is a fundamental part of a civilized society.
- The terrorist attack on the UN building has shocked the civilized world.
having a well-developed way of life and social systems:
- “A civilized society allows for tolerance,” he said.
A description from Wikipedia offers the following:
History of the concept
The English word civilization comes from the 16th-century French civilisé ("civilized"), from Latin civilis ("civil"), related to civis ("citizen") and civitas ("city"). The fundamental treatise is Norbert Elias's The Civilizing Process (1939), which traces social mores from medieval courtly society to the Early Modern period. In The Philosophy of Civilization (1923), Albert Schweitzer outlines two opinions: one purely material and the other material and ethical. He said that the world crisis was from humanity losing the ethical idea of civilization, "the sum total of all progress made by man in every sphere of action and from every point of view in so far as the progress helps towards the spiritual perfecting of individuals as the progress of all progress".
The word suggests a structure of social mores and accepted behaviour underpinning the fact that large groups living in close proximity to each other need some kind of way to interact and cooperate.
When I look at what is today referred to as a civilised society, I despair. Is this what civilised people do? Is this what being civilised means? I think I'd rather be a "primitive" than civilised if that is the case.
If humans really were civilised, would we have
- Invented concentration camps (the British during the Boer War)
- Carried out the killing of 6 million humans during the second World War - (Germany)
- Wiped out almost all of the Native American tribes (many nations participated in this, primarily Spanish, British and French nationals)
- Wiped out complete cultures all over South America (primarily the Spanish and Portuguese)
- Wiped out a large part of the native inhabitants of Oceania (British)
- Wiped out a good chunk of the populations in African and Asian countries (British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Belgians)
- Allow millions to starve to death for the sake of profit (India, Ireland - the British, many African countries)
- Turn whole countries into opium addicts (British in China, etc.)
- Create slavery as the basis for wealth (most countries then and now)
- In a "post-colonial" time, taken away everything from a nation and forced them to give it up for people from a entirely different part of the world (Israel and the East-European Jews)
- Traffic children and women for sex (many, many countries as source and many more as recipients)
- Allowing immense wealth for the few and staggering poverty for others
- Use children to bolster up their armies (Africa, South America, Asia)
- Keep populations in grinding poverty while it's "leaders" live in luxury
- Kill the people of their own country (Spanish Civil war, Irish War, Rwanda, Uganda, Serbia, etc., etc.)
- Educate only some and deliberately ensure that only the select few are fully supported (almost everywhere)
- Religious representatives who use their position to abuse and misuse children over centuries
- Religious groups which kill others who do not follow their views and believe the creator of all is partisan to their lttle group
- Religions which support wars of one state against the human beings of another state.
It's a word we can't, in all honesty, apply with it's original meaning to human society today. The list above shows that we have no concept at all of what a human being is and it's potential for good. It's potential for bad is being explored all the time. I can only shake my head in disbelief that we have not yet changed anything at all for the better. We have got better at killing many at once and screwing up many more lives in an instant, but more civilised?
When I listen to a brilliant musician or read a wonderful inspiring book or see a painting that raises my spirits, I am made aware of the fantastic possibilities contained in a human being. When I see some of the wonderful things built to celebrate life and the creation, I see that true human civilisation could really be a fantastic and inspiring thing to be a part of. And it's always possible, as those inspirational events and people show. But in every case, it demands personal responsibility to oneself and to one's fellow human beings on the planet.
If I can't understand and know myself, then how could I believe or expect that I can understand and know another person. And if I can't understand myself, then it's easy to misunderstand another. And without that understanding, true human civilisation is never going to be possible. The world is full of egoists with no respect for others. That's not going to work and if you look at the world, you know that this "civilisation" is doomed. The question merely remains, are we going to take the rest of the planet with us into extinction or not.
We really need to wake up and start to realise, we won't exist as a species after a few more generations, because we are to busy killing each other and our supply of needed resources (food, water, air).
I recently watched a documentary about space travel. In it, one person suggested we needed to get into space travel, "so we could escape from the results of all our mistakes on this planet ans start afresh. What an absolutely terrifying idea: exporting our insane species to wreak havoc on another planet? I sincerely hope we don't achieve that. because we'd be exporting our insanity too - it's not going to get any better somewhere else, if we haven't changed. My father was a functioning alcoholic and he used to tell me, that the trouble with trying to drown your problems, ist that the buggers float! No different here: if we go somewhere else, but are still crazy, then nothing is going to change.
Conclusion: we need to become civilised and quickly. That means YOU! YOU need to realise what an amazing and unique creature you are, who has been given the gift of life and that that is an amazing event! You are unique on the planet - there has never been another person exactly like you, ever, in the past, nor will there ever be a person exactly like you in the future. You are now and you are the only person like you who exists. That is truly unique. That makes YOU special, all by itself. It also means that is true of every individual on the planet and as such, every one is entitled to the respect we demand for ourselves.
So, what are YOU going to do, to change YOU, nobody else, just YOU? That is enough of a task for any human being and occupies all of life.