The social world, with polar opposites Civilized and Savage, can also be understood with a spherical model. Let’s call the civilized pole north, and savage south (overlay our freedom/free enterprise north pole and the tyranny/controlled economy south pole). Again, you can place individual and small group interest/responsibility in the western hemisphere and larger group interest/responsibility in the eastern hemisphere.
That northern circle, above the 45th parallel, that we call the Freedom Zone in the political world has a specific description in the social world—what we could call the Civilization Zone.
I will be using the terms Civilized and Savage somewhat more specifically than the usual dictionary definitions. Civilized will be more than a society where people write records, have a certain amount of technology, and live together in cities. I think it is clearly possible for all of those things to exist in societies that have sunk into savagery. Nazi Germany is the most obvious example from recent history. And it is also possible, though not really seen in today’s world, for innocent but unrefined people to live in harmonious civilization. Many families that settled the American West exemplify civilization at a micro level.
Civilization Precedes Freedom
The Civilization Zone is more important than either the Free-Enterprise or political Freedom Zones; it is essential for the others. A civilized people (people who choose to be honest and caring with one another) are essential in order for free enterprise to function. No amount of regulation and manipulation by law enforcement can compensate for people unlawfully and unethically taking advantage of one another or refusing to care for the less fortunate. And if regulation and manipulation are used to control the greed, then it’s not a free market anyway. Likewise, it takes a civilized people in order for a free society to work. No amount of government control can force out corruption among a people in power who choose to grant favors according to bribes and special interest pressures. The public behavior will mirror the private behavior of the people. But with a truly civilized society (people choosing to be moral), free enterprise and political freedom can and will thrive.
I believe we can identify particular characteristics and practices of civilized societies. And if we can identify them, these characteristics and practices can be reproduced. Every time they are reproduced, consistently over time, civilization, with all the thriving and harmony that implies, will be the result.
What Does Civilization Look Like?
In the northern circle that is the goal—Civilization—families typically remain intact, and children are raised in loving homes, with caring parents who guide their education and training, dedicating somewhere between 18 and 25 years for that child to reach adulthood, and who then remain interested in their children’s success for the rest of their lives.
Civilized people live peaceably among their neighbors, helping rather than taking advantage of one another, abiding by laws enacted to protect property and safety—with honesty and honor. Civilized people live in peace with other civilized people; countries and cultures coexist in appreciation, without fear.
There is a thriving free-enterprise economy. Poverty is meaningless; even though there will always be a lowest earning 10% defined as poor, in a civilized society these lowest earners have comfortable shelter and adequate food and clothing—and there’s the possibility of rising, or at least for future generations to rise.
Creativity abounds; enlightening arts and literature exceed expectations. Architecture and infrastructure improve; innovation and invention are the rule.
People feel free to choose their work, their home, their family practices, their friendships and associations. And they generally self-restrain before they infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. Where there are questions about those limits, laws are in place to help clarify boundaries of civilized behavior. When someone willingly infringes on the rights or safety of another, the law functions to protect that victim as well as society from further uncivilized behavior from the offender.
There’s a big difference between Civilization and a utopia (an unrealistic ideal that is impossible to achieve, but is often promised by those seeking power in the southern/eastern quadrant). Civilization is actually a near ideal we have glimpsed a number of times through history and frequently in micro-societies. You’ll find many of these characteristics in early civilizations during their thriving golden years: early ancient Greek and Roman republics, ancient Salem (city of Enoch, a precursor of Jerusalem), ancient Israel following Moses, many parts of early America, and within individual families in nearly every society. [You could say the rise of Rome was caused by living many civilizing principles, and political and economic freedom followed; and the fall was caused by giving in to decaying savagery, and tyrannical government followed.]
Keep in mind that the Civilization Zone on the spherical model is the circle above the 45th parallel, as with the Freedom Zone and the Free-Enterprise Zone. And as with the other spheres, there can be a fair approximation of civilization between the 45th parallel and the equator. But that section of the sphere has downward pulling gravity. Think of it as standing on a very large ball. Up on top it’s easy to stay up there. But as soon as you edge downward, it gets harder to maintain position. Between the 45th and 90th parallels, even though that’s a fairly nice area, it’s hard to stay there without slipping lower. Metaphorically this is true because philosophically it is true. There are philosophical principles used as bases for making decisions in our behavior toward one another that lead to Civilization. Fail to adhere to those philosophical principles, and life with one another gets less pleasant. Some infractions will be minor, and can be easily corrected; others cause worse damage, and it will take concerted, determined effort to rise back up to Civilization.
The Formula for Civilization
There are a couple of basic requirements for Civilization. They may seem self-evident to people living civilized lives. But for those not there yet, they might require some explanation—and time to sink in. So, rather than dismiss the concepts out of hand, I ask that you at least give the ideas consideration.
Not all religious societies are civilized (according to my definition), but every civilized society is a religious society. This absolutely does not mean state-sponsored religion or lack of religious freedom; in fact, the opposite is true. Freedom of religion is essential, and the flourishing of religion in general must be encouraged.
The family is the basic unit of civilized society. Whatever threatens the family threatens civilization. So preserving and protecting the family is paramount in laws and social expectations in a civilized society.
We’ll take these two premises in turn, the first in the remainder of this article, and the second in the article titled “Family Is the Basic Unit of Society.”
Why Every Civilized Society Must Be a Religious Society
If rights are God-given to every human being, then there must be a God from whom they come. Without God granting the rights, then “rights” would be totally dependent on whoever or whatever entity currently wields power over human beings. So, freedom from tyranny is only possible if we acknowledge God as the right-giver, and then we set up governmental systems for the specific purpose of protecting those rights—limiting governmental power to protecting rights rather than taking or granting them.
Laws of Civilization
When Jesus Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment, he answered, and gave a second as well: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, KJV) In other words, every law comes under the categories of honoring God or honoring your neighbor as equal in value to yourself. Some people might reword this second part as the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you—which is universally accepted as basic civilized behavior.
The Ten Commandments, from the Judeo-Christian tradition, must therefore also come under these two categories. The first four command that we honor God, who is the source of our human rights, which we are free to exercise in a civilized society. The remaining six identify ways we must honor one another in a civilized society:
do not murder (take innocent life)
do not have sex outside of marriage
do not steal
do not lie
do not covet (want what belongs to your neighbor)
Other religions that lead to civilization must require these behaviors of adherents. There aren’t any civilizations (using my definition) that do not share these beliefs. Is it possible for non-religious people to adhere to these basic civilized behaviors as well? Yes, but their reasons will be pragmatic, that people are happier when they treat each other this way, therefore logic suggests following these rules. And since they consider themselves, rather than God, the final arbiter of good (including what is logical and what feels happier), they can be depended on only so long as they consider the behavior beneficial, not out of duty to a higher being. So the society is helped by their adherence, but it is more true that they benefit from the duty-bound religious people bringing about civilization around them than that the civilization comes from these (often rare) civilized-living secularists.
It’s fair to say that there must be a critical mass of religious people honoring God’s commandments in order for Civilization to result. Civilization doesn’t require perfect people, which would be impossible. But it does require a strong majority daily going about their lives in purposeful effort to be civilized toward one another. Less civilized people will always exist among them, but the stronger that majority, the less savage effect the non-civilized will have.
Ways the Ten Commandments Civilize
We can look at the last six of the Ten Commandments in more detail and find that they all civilize, either by valuing family, valuing human life, valuing property, or valuing truth.
Why “Honor thy father and thy mother”? Because family is the basic unit of society, the means of perpetuating both life and the principles of civilization, society must honor and protect family relationships. This commandment is an organizing principle. Children, even when they grow to need less of their parents’ care, will still honor and value them for the nurturing they provided, and for the wisdom they continue to provide. And then, when they are old, the children will provide for the elderly who are no longer able to provide for themselves. It’s economically beneficial to the young and the old for fathers and mothers to be honored.
In the article “Family Is the Basic Unit of Society” I have much more related to “Thou shalt not commit adultery (have unlawful sexual relations).” In short, sex outside of marriage degrades the family, and particularly harms children, who are the source of perpetuating civilization. We may need a later chapter to talk about how to maintain virtue, because what was probably self-evident to our country’s founders has become lost information in society in our century.
Value Innocent Human Life
Then there’s “Thou shalt not kill”—with kill better translated as “murder” or “take innocent human life.” It is a savage culture that does not value human life, specifically innocent human life. Baby killing is savage, yet as abortion becomes a settled fact of society, child abandonment at birth (children left in restrooms and dumpsters) is heard of more and more. In spring 2008, while I was researching for this article, a young mother put her newborn in the restroom trash in a Houston, Texas, hospital and covered it with bloody paper towels. Complaints about the mess are what brought a cleaning crew to discover the child, miraculously still alive (survived for several days). Texas is a state where unwed mothers can abandon babies with no questions asked, at hospitals, fire stations and other facilities. All any young mother had to do was come in and say, “I don’t want the baby,” and she would be treated without question, and the child would be put up for adoption. She had nothing to fear. She was already at a care facility. Yet she put a live baby in the garbage. Insanity? Yes. But savage insanity. She covered the baby so he wouldn’t quickly be seen. She went back to the hospital waiting room for treatment because of bleeding. She was carrying out relatively logical life tasks but didn’t know a baby shouldn’t go in the garbage covered by bloody paper towels? That she needs mental treatment is obvious. But that her variety of “insanity” is growing more common, spreading almost like an epidemic, is also apparent. There were two more examples in the news that April, one in a restroom on a plane, one at a Houston high school, both 14-year-old girls, and no one apparently knew they were pregnant.
If this insanity is spreading, then the disease is communicable because of the decay in value for innocent human life. Even insane behavior must occur to the insane person; if it’s inconceivable and never seen in society, it is much less likely to be conceived of in the mind of the mentally unstable.
That is why the insanity of campus shootings has become much more common since Columbine in 1999, when such an atrocity became “conceivable.” In 2007 a shooting rampage happened at Virginia Tech. It happened at Northern Illinois State in February 2008. The previously inconceivable insanity still horrifies, but it no longer surprises. And there’s a certain level of rational thinking among the insane attackers, who choose a place like a school, where they are likely to have free rein to kill multiple victims before being taken down in their own death. They have a savage goal, and they logically think through the ways to accomplish it. Insanity to the civilized mind, but logical to the savage mind.
Killing of the elderly, euphemistically called euthanasia or “dying with dignity,” is another way of saying society can’t be bothered to care for the no-longer productive. This idea flouts both honoring our parents and honoring life. And it is savage. Every civilized culture has valued innocent life, and every society that has then lost that value for life has decayed into more and more savagery.
Everywhere that euthanasia has been legalized, stories abound of people who, in more civilized countries, could have received care to live longer productive lives, but who in these countries are euthanized—against their will and the will of their families. They are disposed of. This is always the result of supposedly allowing people to have the “dignified” choice of naming the time, location, and circumstances of their demise, something civilized people don’t actually expect because that decision belongs to God.
Loss of value for life leads to looming demographic disasters. Worldwide reproductive rates have been falling for decades—not because of greater infertility, but because of self-imposed infertility. Replacement rates for society are 2.1 children per female, producing one replacement for herself and one for the male (the .1 compensates for the live births that do not then grow to adulthood). Most industrialized countries, as well as many third world countries, are well below these rates. Some people falsely believe this is a good thing for the planet, so we don’t overuse our resources. But they fail to take into account some basic math.
There are roughly three segments of society: those too young to be producers yet, the producers (adults in their working years), and those too old to still be producers. In part, the elderly can provide for themselves with pre-retirement savings, if they’ve planned well and lived providently. But if their needs exceed their ability to provide, it is incumbent on the producers (their adult children) to see to their care. Meanwhile, the producers are also caring for the upcoming generation. When this is seen as a burden, then producers have fewer children, which means that when the smaller generation moves into the producer role, there are fewer of them providing for larger groups of elderly plus young. And since the producers will be spending more of their earnings on elderly and child care, they will have less ability to save for their own retirement, so the next smaller generation of producers will be even more greatly burdened.
The only way out of the servitude toward the non-producers is to increase the offspring generation so that the next generation of producers will be bigger, thus spreading out the burden. (For example, an elderly couple with six adult children sharing the burden of their care is less of a burden per person than an elderly couple with only one or two adult children.) But the savage solution is to encourage the demise of the elderly once they become a burden. Socialized medicine, where a cold bureaucrat rather than loving adult children makes the decisions about an elderly patient’s care, tends to decrease care options “for the sake of society as a whole,” essentially causing premature death of the elderly. That’s savage.
Value Property Rights
“Thou shalt not steal” is another necessity of civilization. An economy can’t thrive without respect for individual property ownership. In a lecture I once heard by University of Houston economist Bart Smith, the surprising thing he said was, “the economy is successful where the people are good.” He showed a number of examples. It’s one of those common sense ideas that aren’t really so common.
The culture in Mexico, for example, periodically goes through a retrenchment where they say they are going to root out corruption. But the same people live in the culture; often the same people who took graft before hold similar positions of authority, so the same corruption quickly reappears.
People actually have to believe in being good, in choosing not to be corrupt because it is a matter of personal honor. And those who cannot acquiesce to the desire for honesty need to be removed from the civilized portion of society (the more widespread, the more difficult to isolate). Religion, caring about God’s will more than selfish will, gives a rationale for honesty that allows society to prosper, and is a basis for making the change that imposing written laws cannot do.
A few years ago my husband had a computer stolen from his car. He had a lunch meeting in a restaurant and didn’t want to deal with the computer backpack at his table, so he left it on the floor, under the back seat, unfortunately only partially hidden, and locked the door. Someone with a crowbar bashed the window, grabbed the computer, and took off. It was never recovered. That computer was the only place we had photos from the previous month, not yet printed out, including our first meeting with our future daughter-in-law and also a two-day teen camp for our homeschooling group. The pictures more than anything were a painful loss. We lost some business files, but fortunately our financial files weren’t on that computer, and many other things were either not a great loss or were replaceable. The window and the computer were insured, but not until after a $1000 deductible, at a time when we were attempting a small business and had very little income. It was financially very painful, and it was hurtful to feel that, even in a locked car, in a public parking lot, someone was savage enough to consider he had more right to our possessions than we did. When you’re going through life trying to think of society as civilized, it shocks the senses. You feel betrayed.
I’m sure our experience is so common that everyone reading this has either experienced similar theft or knows someone personally who has.
When our kids were younger, we lived in a semi-rural neighborhood near a relatively small metropolitan area (about 160,000). The kids came and went throughout the day. We locked the door when we left home, because we had grown up in bigger cities. But seldom would it have been necessary to lock the door to prevent theft. In the neighborhood where we live now, in a city of several million, we keep the front door locked, usually with a deadbolt and another key lock, even when we’re home. We have an alarm system, connected to a service that has more than once sent police officers to check out whether we were safe when the alarm went off accidentally. We carry the house key if we so much as leave for the park or the mailbox.
I should add that this is a relatively safe suburban family neighborhood. But the freedom we enjoyed in the safer rural place doesn’t exist here. We spend resources and effort on our safety that we wouldn’t have to spend if the place were so civilized that no one would dishonor themselves by taking what didn’t belong to them.
[Aside: It may be worth noting that, the more urban the area, the more crime you can expect. Urban settings in today’s world are nearly always less civilized than non-urban settings. Coincidentally, if you look at the political beliefs of the basic urban dweller, you can see that they prefer socialism and governmental control to freedom, possibly out of fear caused by the constant threat of chaos.]
It takes a truly uncivilized (savage) mind to assume you have a right to the belongings of someone else when you have neither worked for nor earned the belongings. That’s why “Thou shalt not covet” is also important. Wanting what your neighbor has is a big step downward from wanting something like your neighbor has, while rejoicing that he can enjoy it, and then setting as a goal earning something similar for yourself.
[Another aside: The lottery, and other forms of gambling, reinforce the idea that it’s a good thing to get something for nothing. The most likely to fall for this lie are the poor, who can least afford to lose the money they do get from their labors. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that gambling costs society about $2 in social programs (welfare, crime) for every dollar it brings in as supposed income for the state. The solution shouldn’t be “let’s have our own gambling so those dollars don’t leave the state”; it should be “let’s educate the people about gambling so their hard-earned dollars are put to good use in our society instead of draining out in wasted gambling elsewhere.”]
Coveting is placing your wants above the rights of your neighbor. Stealing doesn’t happen if you don’t covet first. Coveting is the thought, convincing yourself you are deserving and the neighbor isn’t; stealing is the act of taking because you have rationalized that you deserved it. In a civilized society, the urge to covet and steal are corrected at around age 2-3, and continue to be monitored by parents until a person reaches adulthood; only the uncivilized keep coveting and stealing into adulthood. If these relative few are held accountable—are removed from civilized society until and if their behavior is corrected—then society is safe from the decay. But if they’re not held accountable, if they are accepted and even sometimes considered clever, then the happy sense of living in civilization declines.
“Thou shalt not lie” is a commandment with many ramifications in Civilization. Observe, for example, taking an oath to tell the truth in a court of law. The oath means that, because God is your witness, and He knows the truth, and you will be judged by Him in this life and the life to come, therefore you feel the requirement to tell the truth under oath. God is bigger than yourself, a mere human, and He is bigger than your human peers; so it is to God you obligate yourself in the oath, not just to society. If you don’t believe in God, what does your oath mean? You might be telling the truth; there are honest people who don’t believe in God. But, without any belief greater than your personal self, you (your own god) could declare that it is acceptable for you to lie if it fits your personal needs to do so. You accept no higher authority to insist otherwise. Society feels no obligation from you, because you admit to nothing greater than yourself and your personal moral code, however self-serving.
[Side note: I am not saying that we isolate ourselves from non-religious people, and not give them the freedoms the rest of us enjoy. I am saying, societally it ought to be up to the non-religious to present evidence that they are being truthful. Maybe that would be submitting to a lie-detector; maybe it would be supplying character witnesses. I’m not sure of a solution, and it may look no different from now. Affirming, rather than taking an oath, is already allowed in the Constitution, and there are already laws against purjury. But I would like to see some initiative on the part of the non-religious to compensate the Civilized society for the fact that their belief system gives society less guarantee of their truthfulness.]
While we must not have a state religion (more on freedom of religion later), there is a religious morality that enables laws and freedom to exist and encourage civilization that atheism (or secularism) fails to do. And it shouldn’t be surprising that many of the tyrannies in the world in the past century have been atheistic (the alternative to atheistic tyranny is religious tyranny—that is, a single forced religion; societies with freedom of religion don’t become tyrannies). In Soviet countries during communist rule, Christian grandmothers persisted in teaching religious values to their children and grandchildren. The Soviets controlled productions. But developers of the European Union have conspired that they will not make the same mistake; they will also control reproduction and education. When you control education of children, you control the destiny of mankind.
Religious Freedom Is Necessary to Civilization
No one can be forced to believe something. It isn’t how our human minds work. We can be persuaded, shown overwhelming evidence, encouraged to believe, but we cannot be forced. The problem is, in an oppressive society (as most historical societies have been, and many are today) we can be forced to appear to believe.
There was an article in the Religion section of the local paper some time ago, in which several different religious leaders were asked what they thought were the most dangerous religious beliefs. The common answer was, “that you belong to the one true church.” And I thought, what’s dangerous about that? If you’re a pastor who makes your money by how many generous believers you have, then you, personally, might feel threatened that some people out there with different beliefs actually think they have the truth. But what would be the purpose of choosing a religion if you didn’t believe you were finding the truth? Wouldn’t you just keep looking until you found one you could believe held the truth about how we should worship God and how we should behave toward one another?
One clergyman, from a place where no proselytizing among members of his religion is allowed, said he thought proselytizing was the most dangerous threat. And I thought, in his country, it’s only a threat to those few who dare to believe something other than the state religion, who if they answer simple questions about their beliefs might be seen as breaking the law, which could be life-threatening to them. But a threat to his religion? I don’t see how.
I am still a little surprised they didn’t all offer the obvious answer: the belief that it is righteous to kill people for believing something different from you. That is clearly a lot more dangerous to religious people than people who believe they have found a true church or people who share their beliefs.
In religious thought there is nothing so dangerous—and illogical—as killing because of religious beliefs. If someone believes differently from you, it means that, based on what they know so far, in the context of their life experiences and interests, they haven’t been persuaded to believe what you believe. You can’t persuade them that you have found the truth by threatening to kill them; you can only persuade them, if you’re in that oppressive power position, that if they value their life they’d better pretend to have been persuaded, and better give every outward sign of belief.
Oppression is uncivilized. Always. It’s untenable that a religion intended to improve people’s hearts and minds accepts summarily mowing people down because they were born into a different culture and taught a different belief. I don’t think this can accurately be considered religious thought; it is politically tyrannical thought. It is the thought of people who want to increase their power over others by eliminating their enemy, and they happen to choose the name of a religion as their excuse for power lust.
A religion’s strongest rightful punishment is excommunication, a declaration that an individual’s beliefs or behaviors are so far out of line with the religion that the church does not acknowledge that person’s claim of membership.
Wherever you see a religion claiming it has the right to execute people, not even for evil acts but simply for their beliefs, you can be absolutely certain you are not looking at people seeking closeness to God. You’re looking at the same run-of-the-mill tyrant types that have thirsted for power throughout history.
Likewise, there is no circumstance in which having a state-sponsored religion is actually intended to increase the faith of the people; it is always to eliminate dissent. The state—the governing entity that the people have ceded power to—has no moral sense in and of itself. So ceding to the state the decision of what religious beliefs to hold is more foolhardy than ceding just about any other personal responsibility related to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Belief that the state knows best is a weak populace’s excuse for giving in to oppressors.
[A smaller, non-political, unit of society, such as a family or a church community, can have a preferred religion. That belief can be a civilizing influence and philosophical bond. But that happens when the members choose the belief, and choose to associate, not because the governmental entity has prescribed it. At the time of the founding, only the federal government was constitutionally prohibited from establishing a state religion; the separate states were allowed. Several colonies had state religions. Connecticut continued for some time after the founding; Massachusetts continued to levy a religious tax so every man would support a church of his choice. I think we agree now, though, that any government entity at any level prescribing religion is taking from the individual’s freedom to choose. And it is only in the choosing that religion has power to improve the human heart.]
In ancient history, it was nearly always the practice of a tyrant taking over a people to force them to bow down and worship whatever idol the tyrant insisted on (quite often himself as deity). Religious uniformity was a unifying dictatorial force. And tyrants claiming religious reasons will use the very same methods for gaining power that atheist tyrants use.
In a number of countries in the world today, it is illegal to say anything against a particular religion with many violent adherents (adherents being a relative term, but they describe themselves as believers). I trust that 90% or more of the adherents of this religion are peace loving and live their religion because they are seeking to be closer to God. But a surprising majority in some countries believe that there are circumstances in which terrorism—purposefully killing innocents in as large numbers as can be accomplished (and not as part of a defensive war)—is an acceptable practice.
That is mental derangement on a grand scale. There are no such circumstances. Terrorism is a savage act. And it is a tyrannical act; the purpose is to create chaos to persuade the innocent to succumb to the rule of the tyrant. It is never a civilizing religious act. Never. Its perpetrators cannot have a civilized reason for committing the terrorist act. The only reason is savage desire for tyranny.
That terrorism increases in horror is purposeful—to instill greater fear. If there is enough chaotic fear, a sense of danger, that the oppressor can persuade people he is capable of curing, then the oppressor gains power, and that is his goal. That there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who are willing to accept such horror does not bode well for the planet. It was horrifying to find that the savages recruited suicide bombers, persuading them they were giving their lives in the pursuit of horror. In spring 2008 the horror level was raised when these tyrannists recruited two mentally deficient women to be suicide bombers, presumably without their understanding or consent. And the terrorists did this despicable act on purpose to increase the horror, since the run-of-the-mill suicide bomber no longer causes the same gut-wrenching reaction around the world.
Using the spherical model allows us to see that an act as uncivilized as terrorism against innocents is both savage and tyrannical; the behavior is polar opposite of civilization and freedom. There is no possible outcome for civilization to continue except to prevent, by every means necessary, any terrorist act, and in addition to persuade the world to choose civilization and be willing to sacrifice and fight for it, with absolutely no sympathy for terrorism.
I don’t know what means the peaceful, actual followers of this religion should use to root out the evil terrorist fringe. But they must condemn the terrorism—including any rationale the terrorists use to claim it is their right. Many have done so. But unless virtually all adherents condemn terrorism, and find a way to make that belief public, the overall religion will be rightly condemned for condoning savagery, which makes it by definition a false religion unworthy of society’s respect. I hope they find a way to bring forward the civilized sectors and expel the savagery from among them, so that their real religion can do good for society as a whole.
Religion of Civilization
While America’s founders constitutionally protected us from a state religious ruling sect, they did understand the need for basic religious principles that were expected from all free people, in order for freedom to thrive.
In The 5000-Year Leap, author/historian W. Cleon Skousen summarizes the five necessary tenets of religion in a free society:
1. There is a Creator who made all things, and mankind should recognize and worship Him. [first 4 of the 10 Commandments]2. The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes right from wrong. [the rest of the 10 commandments]
3. The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other.
4. All mankind live beyond this life.
5. In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.
These were the basic beliefs of the founders of America. Arguments about slight differences in their religious affiliations or personal philosophical persuasions don’t change that these tenets were very nearly universal among the signers of the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution. And these beliefs were nearly universal among the citizens at the time as well. Forty years after the ratification of the Constitution, these are the beliefs that Alexis de Tocqueville described in his Democracy in America. The republican form of government they established was possible because it was put in place by a basically religious and ethical people.
Religion of Savagery
There are correlative beliefs that correspond with savagery. These are:
1. Degrading the position of God the Creator, often seen as agnosticism or atheism, or more often as replacing deity with a human, as seen in ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. The corollary is degrading those who believe in and honor God the Creator.
2. Devaluing human life, often by elevating the value of animals above human life, seen in worship of animals and often leading to human sacrifice to animal gods.
3. Doing away with free will and consequences: Belief that sun, moon and stars—or something totally out of the reach of a person’s influence—control humans’ fate and actions, removing free will and thus responsibility for actions.
Degrading Position of God
It’s a bit astonishing how often we see versions of these beliefs in our modern world. The tendency to degrade believers as unsophisticated or ignorant is common. The insistence that believers are intolerant if they express their beliefs publicly is another indicator of the first rule of the religion of savagery. Oppressing the believers can’t possibly be a civilizing practice; the only alternatives, then, are that oppressing the believers is neutral or negative. When people have their God-given natural right to worship freely taken from them—a hallmark of tyranny—then you can see, by placement on the spherical model, that must be negative for society as a whole. Depending on the intensity of the persecution, society then resides anywhere from just below the freedom zone all the way down into savagery.
The most common occurrence of this repression in the US is insisting that religious symbols and practices be removed from public places. Disallowing schools from having prayers, so as not to make nonbelievers uncomfortable, is a gross distortion, not only of the Constitution’s freedom of religion clause, but of the idea of “separation of church and state” mentioned in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson wrote to assure them that the “free exercise of religion” mentioned in the First Amendment was not a declaration that the right was granted by government, but that it was inalienable, and that there would not and could not be a religious sect favored by the US government to the exclusion of the others. It is simply wrong to say that Jefferson believed religious people should allow only their secular beliefs to be expressed in public. Jefferson, along with the other founders, valued religion and encouraged its practice in its various civilizing forms, to the betterment of the nation.
Devaluing of Human Life
The distortion from human beings as the sentient caretakers of the earth to evil overlords over the innocent animals is also common in the savage religious belief system. One evidence is summarily taking of people’s property or use thereof without due compensation, simply because some animals would have to relocate. A further distortion would be claiming we must give up technology that produces the naturally occurring substance carbon-dioxide because using it in the southern US could cause the death of polar bears in the arctic. [Notice the requirement for sacrifice for the sake of the animal or earth god.] Care for the environment and the wildlife are often elevated well above the well being of human life.
Likewise the idea that domesticated animals are deprived of their free life is fallacious, because the vast majority of those animals, if undomesticated, would not be living at all. While it is a mark of civilization to avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals, it is not required of human beings to starve themselves for the sake of preserving other species. No other species chooses such a sacrifice. And no other species has suicidal delusions that the planet would be better off if its species had never been given place here. Wherever you see human life devalued below animals or parts of nature, you can be certain those beliefs are part of the religion of savagery.
[Note: The current fad of buying and selling of carbon offsets looks suspiciously like the anachronistic religious practice of buying and selling indulgences—paying to sin. It doesn’t prevent the unwanted behavior; it just makes it more acceptable for the rich to commit it than the poor.]
Doing Away with Free Will and Consequences
Astrology has been around for millennia. Its purpose has always been to excuse people from responsibility for their actions. After all, if the alignment of planets on the day of one’s birth is the cause for what a person does or accomplishes, then it’s pointless to put effort into improving, since individual effort is futile. Similarly, if one has a tendency to do evil, and one believes that behavior is caused by an inborn trait or accident of birth, then why try to overcome the inevitable? Removal of free will is always an excuse for negative choices.
A more common assertion in our culture is the excuse that “society” is to blame for a person becoming a criminal. There is considerable difference between a single bad family or a bad section of an inner city contributing to the criminal tendencies of a person and saying the family or society as a whole is the criminal, and that therefore the actual perpetrator of the crime should not be punished. Creating behavioral “illnesses” such as sex addiction, drug addiction, alcoholism, or even impulsive ADD behaviors doesn’t help civilize. Finding ways to help people overcome bad behaviors is good, but that can’t be done to the exclusion of holding wrongdoers accountable. The solution is helping the wrongdoers see the consequences of their choices and find ways to overcome their evil urges; the solution is clearly not giving them a pass while blaming society. That is a mark of savage religion.
Converting from Savagery to Civilization
As we find our society decaying further and further south into Savagery, the question is, what can we do to get back to Civilization? Repent. In religion, when you have sinned (committed an act that doesn’t qualify as civilized), you as an individual must follow a process to get out of the dishonorable position.
Recognize that you have done wrong—get past denial.
Confess that you are wrong (depending on situation, this may need to be public).
Make restitution. (Include your plans to make restitution when asking forgiveness of anyone you have wronged, which is part of the confession step.)
Change your way of thinking to prevent yourself from falling into the negative behavior again, and then live honorably from this point onward.
Steps aren’t that different for a society needs to repent. When society has been going the wrong direction and decaying, it needs to recognize the wrong, then admit the wrong, make restitution, and then change and continue on the new path.
Society repents when a critical mass of individuals in the community take the necessary steps to change. When one person changes, that is a beginning. When an entire family changes, that family becomes a civilized societal unit. When that family joins with other families that have chosen to give up savage behaviors and continue with civilized behaviors, that becomes a larger civilized society. When a strong majority of families in a community choose civilization, they can benefit the large society and pull it upward, and have the strength, then, to separate out the savage actors, so that the civilization is no longer at risk of being decayed by them.
At every step it is a matter of choosing. Government cannot force Civilization on a people, so the solution isn’t governmental intervention. The role of government is, at the lowest possible level, to support people in protecting their hard-won Civilization. It has to be the Civilized people themselves who set the standard for living among them. A family has that right. A church has that right. A school has that right. And as you get larger, when the strong majority, a critical mass, choose to live in a civilized way, they can set law—as a municipality, a city or county, and a state. Civilization can only happen at a national level when the lower levels have already made the changes.
The good news is that you can enjoy many the benefits of Civilization in even the smallest unit—the family. When parents and children live together in peace and love, adhering to the requirements of Civilization, they benefit. Beyond the family, the benefits grow as larger units become Civilized, but a single family in and of itself can flourish. So helping our own family, and then preserving the concept of family, is where most of us should be spending our energies. We’re almost ready for “Family is the Basic Unit of Civilization.” But first, let’s go through a reminder list (incomplete, as any list must be) of what civilized people will and will not do.
Civilized people work to support themselves and their families.
Civilized people welcome children into their family with rejoicing and commit to nurturing the child physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually to ensure that the next generation remains civilized.
Civilized people will give freely from their surplus wealth and time to help shore up people going through hard times.
Civilized people are honest in their dealings with others, in business and in personal relationships.
Civilized people are peacefully law-abiding in a community with fair, people-led laws.
Civilized people don’t get intoxicated or use recreational mind-altering drugs.
Civilized people never attack their civilized neighbors in anger, nor provoke their neighbors. If there are disputes, they work them out, with the help of courts if other negotiations fail to resolve.
Civilized people do not have sex outside of marriage. Once married they remain faithful and committed for life. When there are marital problems, they seek help to work through the problem, rather than leaving the marriage, as long as the spouse has not committed serious uncivilized acts that might not be recoverable: adultery, addiction, abuse (specifically defined), or abandonment.
Civilized people never participate in pornography, neither in production, dissemination, nor use. All aspects of pornography are savage.
Civilized people never even consider prostitution, as every aspect of the practice is savage.
Civilized people never even consider committing a sexual act that is not mutually desired; i.e., rape, incest, child abuse are nonexistent among civilized people. The acts can only be committed by a savage, and every effort should be made to keep such savages from having freedom to commit their crime within the civilization.
Civilized people will not allow uncivilized behavior among them; they hold people accountable. Depending on the uncivilized act and the willingness of the perpetrator to repent, being held accountable could include lawful punishment, ostracism from some segments from society (excommunication from a church, for example), limitations in employment (people shacking up together, for example, could be limited from having teaching or other positions that influence children), or simply a stern correction followed by an offer to help change.
Civilized people are quick to forgive the repentant, but never by releasing the wrongdoer from making restitution; both the person repenting and the society require the restitution to prevent Civilization’s decay.