At the moment in Australia and much of the West, we say that we are a civilised society. After all, we wear clothes, well, most of the time and go to work in offices, we have running water, toilets and live in houses which (usually) have roofs, walls and windows. We have television, electricity, cars, public transportation – of variable efficacy – we have family units, schools, education systems, the internet, hand held mobiles, small computers, big computers, shops, money and banks. We have ‘art’ and we have ‘music’. But are these the things that make us ‘civilised’? And to what are we comparing ourselves…
What is it that makes us civilised? Is it our ‘mod cons’ and the fact that perhaps we wear more clothes than what used to be termed so called ‘primitive savages’ ie the apes or early man? Is it because we have less body hair than the animal kingdom? Or is it because we have and live by certain values?
Surely it is the values that a society live and work on that are the foundation of a true society and surely a true civilisation is one where people live and work in harmony and love together? And thus is it not civilised to be loving and to treat people with decency and respect?
Is the presence of art work in a museum proof that we are civilized? How is it that we can call ourselves civilised because there is ‘art’ on the walls and ‘music’ in our ears where there has not been a day without war since the second world war?
Can we say that we are ‘civilised’ where we have 7 year olds regularly doing phone sex and phone porn?
Can we say that we are ‘civilised’ when abuse is the norm and rates of domestic violence are at an all time high?
Can we say that we are truly civilised when online abuse is not only prolific, but legal?
Can we say that we are civilised when corruption is rife in our industries and not only that but that which we know is corrupt is at times legal through legal loop holes?
Can we say that we are civilised when there are ongoing acts such as rape and murder?
Can we say that we are civilised when our young are sexualized from a young age through mainstream music videos which are an excuse for soft porn?
Can we say that we are ‘civilised’ when Times Square bill board advertises pornography?
We look at the animal kingdom to compare ourselves and we say that we are the most advanced ‘civilisation’ on earth and that we are ‘civilised’ because we are not animals and because we have sewerage systems, plumbing and amazing new technologies and something called ‘wealth’. Yet if we look at the animal kingdom, apart from the greater presence of feathers and fur and absence of sewerage systems, do they have the same issues that we do?
Do they have self harm? Do they murder for the sake of it? Do they have suicide? Do they have corruption and abuse? Or rather do they live together in harmony in their groups as needed operating according to the laws of nature and not in contravention to them….
Does the animal kingdom have pornography? Do they have slavery and ’animal trafficking’?
Does the animal kingdom have online abuse and laws that legalise practices that we know are not right? Do they have complex legal structures that make it difficult to uphold that which we know to be true and complex contracts that hold you bound to a situation and protects others even though what is happening is not honourable or of decency necessarily?
Does the animal kingdom have property developers who are more interested in making profit than they are about supporting the people who are going to live in the buildings that they are making? Or politicians who are more interested in their self interest than serving the very people who have voted them in?
If we can say the answer is no to all of those things, then perhaps we need to consider that we are not so ‘civilised’ as we think.
We often in ‘the west’ look to so called less ‘developed’ societies to say that we are more ‘civilised’. Certainly, we may have better buildings and running water and toilets but is this all that it is to be ‘civilised’? We complain about female genital mutilation in Africa as being ‘uncivilised’ and ‘primitive’ and it certainly is horrific, but what about the rates of voluntary cosmetic surgery and reconstruction that is happening and labioplasties that are now being entered for women in western cultures? Is that not also mutilation, just being paid for instead…. Is that so civilised?
In the West we have societies where there is corruption, domestic violence, abuse happening daily, people are living in families without love, where rates of abuse, both domestic, and sexual are very high yet remaining hidden, people are unhappy, rates of depression, suicide and anxiety are high, rates of illness and disease are sky high and increasing, people are so unhappy that they can’t wait to get home to start eating to drown their sorrows, yet on social media we have people who are celebrating their ‘thigh gap’ or the shape of their nose or the shape of their buttocks to enraptured fans of millions of ‘likes’.
We follow ‘the stars’ and their make up trends, their latest tattoos and what they had for breakfast, and who their latest sexual partner is, yet we care not for the deep sadness and rifts that are existing in our societies where groups are pitted against other groups, work is a stressful environment and there is sadness and disharmony in our families.
Instead of working together to support and help people, we are judging and abusing people on social media, and following the latest hairstyle.
What are our values?
Do we have core widespread universal values, or are we as a whole only interested in ourselves and how we compare to others?
Looking around, what we can see is that abuse is the norm, both in our public and in our private dialogues. We do not speak lovingly or with consistent respect to one another. Road rage is the norm. Rage and impatience if someone bumps into you in the street is the norm. Impatience, intolerance and lack of understanding of people is our normal way of life.
Our politicians, who are the so called leaders in our society have their daily dialogues as lies, name calling, abuse and games both in the parliament and in private: it is a cut throat power game, where the parties are pitted against each other to win at all cost, and are thus not generating policies that are necessarily true or would serve their voters. Their energies are spent in presenting ‘the other side’ as having no answers, rather than presenting a vision for the country.
Does a truly civilised country really have leaders who engage in abuse and lies as part of their profession?
Online abuse is normal and considered to be accepted, despite the high rates of self harm and suicide that it generates. We have a media who print lies and sensationalist stories, with front line stories being of the latest celebrities’ marriage or scandal or perhaps ‘sense of style’….our hospitals are overflowing, the health budget cannot cope with the rates of illness and disease and rates of burnout in our health care practitioners are at an all time high.
We flock to watch reality tv shows to see who can lose the most weight and then at the same time watch cooking shows where the winner cooks the most indulgent and complicated piece of food that is not remotely connected with health and is in fact obesity promoting…. And on that subject, obesity with all of its attendant health issues is at an all time high and food has never been more removed from its true intent which is simply to nourish the body to keep it alive while it engages in fruitful activities in life……
Are all of these activities truly the hallmarks of a civilised society?
There are great things in our modern society, and I for one am grateful for sewerage systems transportation, plumbing and hot water, planes trains and automobiles..but we are far from civilised.
True values that are the foundations of society are decency, respect, trust and care for people if not in fact love.
True civilisation is about people and connection, not about technology, buildings or fancy food.
True society and a true civilisation is one which serves all people, cares for people and strives to always build greater foundations of care, and trust and connection between people. True society and a true civilisation fosters and nurtures people and fosters and builds deeper care and connection between people.
True civilisation is not the government, but it is each and every single one of us contributing equally with each of us living to these values.
True civilisation is one that eliminates corruption, builds deeper love and develops people to grow and evolve together in harmony rather than having people judging each other or in competition with each other, hating or harming themselves or each other.
True civilisation is one where people live in harmony together and with nature and the universe. It is one where we have respect for both each other and universal laws. This does not mean that we live naked with no shoes, but simply that we live in respect and honouring of the all.
We are very very far from that. We don’t even have respect as a widespread universal value. As soon as someone has an opinion or hold a belief with which we disagree or does something that we do not like, we abuse them and/or harass them. And this is legal and accepted as ‘normal’. There is nothing civilised about abuse.
Let us not be led astray or confused by the bells and whistles of the latest whizz bang technology for they are not the true harbingers or markers of civilisation, but are rather the current distracting markers of how far we have become removed from what it is to be truly civilised.