Episode:Civilization—Human Government (Part 8)

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[Paper 70:11-12]

When long established, the undefined mores tend to crystallize into precise laws, concrete regulations, and well-defined social conventions. Law is always at first negative and prohibitive; in advancing civilizations it becomes increasingly positive and directive.


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Summary by Kermit

Commentary on Review

Our commentary on the review reprised the issues of crime and punishment, the loss of reliance on law and reversion to more primitive responses to society’s failure to punish crime. Current events demonstrate some very troublesome trends going forward for those on the leading edge of civilization


70:11. Laws and Courts

With increasing sophistication and capacity for abstract thought, mankind externalizes and codifies the internal more consciousness into law. Law begins as entirely negative and prohibitive—early enforcement of taboos. As civilization advances, laws become more positive and directive transitioning from the “thou shalt not” form to “thou shalt.” The negative form finds continuity in religious sanction which retards this transition. Surveying current state of the legal landscape we can see how far from the advancing stage we find ourselves. The Dalamatian teachers leveraged the fear of the primitives to induce more truthful testimony with the oath, essentially pronouncing a curse upon oneself. Even those (revelators) long familiar with higher truth will meet primitive peoples where they find them and utilize their erroneous ideas of deity and the divine to induce them to go up and forward in progressing civilization.

A caller shared a story of the negative outcome of whistleblowing. Events like these underscore the fact that we are in the material comfort era characterized by tyranny, intolerance, gluttony, and drunkenness. And it is these apparently negative features of this era that provide the necessary contrast for the development of the oft’ cited nine inevitabilities [3:5.5].

We explored the evolution of the concepts of crime and sin from the taboo. Taboos were encompassed in the mores and in their earliest time were ghost sanctioned, connected to the spirit world. Gradually certain taboos became disassociated from the spirit world and eventually evolved to become considered crime. Those taboos that maintained their connection with the spirit world evolved in to sin. In a more modern view, some crimes are regarded as more sin-like, particularly those of a sexual nature and have become known as vice.

The serious issue of discerning mores and morality is most difficult and historical reference is of little help. Religion combined with superstition was a powerful stabilizer of early society. But the “etched in stone” quality of religious-superstitious mores stifled the evolution out of their early forms. The non-religiously evolved mores now present us with major conflict and confusion. But we do have the Fifth Epochal Revelation ((5th ER) to assist those who make the attempt to reconcile this confusion.

Law becomes the codified record of human experience. The application of law by judicial officers when combined with the more system makes for our complicated state of affairs. The emergence of legal precedent represents man’s attempt to reconcile the written law with evolving society. In times of rapid change this takes the negative form of a regression from codified law through rationalization. We see today a tension between the evolutionary process and the heightened spiritual consciousness that enshrines the ideal and leads to an urgency that things are not right and something must be changed now!

The author introduces the idea of courts in his description of four methods of handling property disputes. Our SoS team confessed to witnessing these four methods play out in early childhood experience. These methods included destruction of the property in question, and resolution through force, arbitration, and appeal to elders, and later courts.

The descriptions of the first courts were based on might makes right through fistic encounters. Interestingly, over time the method has remained similar only the fistic encounters have been substituted by verbal arguments. Thus strength of argument becomes the might that makes right.

Primitive justice was more interested in preventing disorder and private violence rather than being fair. Selfishness was the cornerstone of this motivation. Today the new concept of injustice decries selfishness. Logically pursued, the prohibition of selfishness of course leads to totalitarianism. Yet today, the status of a civilization may be accurately determined by the thoroughness and equity of its courts and by the integrity of its judges.


70:12. Allocation of Civil Authority

The great struggle in the evolution of government has concerned the concentration of power. Universe administrators have learned that evolutionary mortals on the inhabited worlds are best regulated by the a representative government wherein power is balanced among executive, legislative, and judicial branches. We discussed some of the differences and difficulties with direct and representative democracies. We noted the existing lack of cooperation among our three branches and the increasing resort to direct voter initiatives as troublesome signs of growing dysfunction of government.

The second paragraph of this section echoed earlier sections in this paper describing the evolution of the allocation of power. We discussed this evolution in terms of the evolutionary struggle between individuality and unity. Interestingly the order of appearance of the executive, legislative, and judicial elements of government are parallel to the order in which these elements are encountered in universe ascension, with the system, constellation, and local universe.

Our author traces this development of government beginning with kings and points to our current governmental system, in a thinly veiled reference to the United States by saying, “In recent times some Urantia nations have codified these mores into documentary bases for government.”

The remainder of this section consists of quite specific prescriptions for us concerning going forward from where we are in the perfecting human government.

We did not spend a great deal of time on the specifics of the final paragraphs of this section, but you will be hard pressed to find more specific and directive instructions from our authors concerning the qualities and characteristics required for fulfilling the various roles of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of a perfecting human government. Also we are given a charge to wisely, intelligently and fearlessly interpret our charter of liberty in order to maintain our freedom. They proceeded to list twelve negative consequences of failure to do so.

There was discussion concerning today’s challenges to our founders’ concept of a nation under God. When recognizing these challenges the immediate question arises, what is the appropriate action for individuals to take in response to today’s confusion and conflict?