Episode:Civilization—Early Development (Part 2)

From Symmetry of Soul

Civilized society is the result of man’s early efforts to overcome his dislike of isolation. The family was the first successful peace group; while, in evolution, marriage insured race survival. From earliest times, where woman was has always been regarded as the home; and almost everything of lasting value in civilization has its roots in the family.

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Keywords: Urantia, Society, Marriage, Family, Home

Summary by Kermit

Commentary on Review

We attempted to put the seemingly harsh descriptions of the current day primitive peoples in to a more sympathetic framework. The references to “miserable remnants of the nonsocial peoples of ancient times” should be seen as matters of fact and not as condescending criticism. And remember in our age of grace these children of God are Adjuster indwelt, as are we.

68:2. Factors in Social Progression

SoS previously read this section during our Marriage and Family arc. This time we are focusing more directly on civilization. For foundational purposes we discussed the revelators’ use of two words throughout the revelation, progress and growth, and the important distinctions between them. Growth in a micro context is equivalent to evolution in a macro perspective. Growth denotes that aspect of a forward moving process that is unconscious. We’re told growth is always unconscious. The conscious aspect of this forward moving sequence is called progress.

The section begins with the statement that civilized society is the result of man’s early efforts to overcome of his dislike of isolation. Why is this, if early man is naturally individualistic? The presence of the 5th adjutant (counsel, the social impulse) exerts its energetic influence in the form of aversion to isolation, which does not necessarily imply mutual affection. The inherent tensions from these conflicting influences have played out in our long history of contention among individuals within civilizations. And though civilization itself appears to be a tumultuous uneven mass of striving and struggling, it represents earnest efforts and not the deadly monotony of stagnation.

Society progressed as fast as it succeeded in lessening pain and increasing the pleasure element of life. Discomfort and pain stimulate man to struggle forward. This forward struggle leads the social body towards the binary goal of destiny—extinction or survival—depending on whether self-maintenance or self-gratification is the chief pursuit.

Here the revelators introduce the terms self-maintenance, self-perpetuation, and self-gratification in relation to society, culture, and civilization. Self-maintenance originates society, while excessive self-gratification destroys civilization. The third phase of progressive civilization in which the leading edge of the world’s peoples find themselves, the material comfort era, presents mankind with our first serious test of advancing civilization. The earlier stages of the nutrition epoch and the security age do not present enough opportunities for self-gratification to seriously hinder their attainment. The material comfort era does provide humans with the means to ultimately destroy civilization through overmuch pursuit of self-gratification. Thus we see evolution as a winnowing process where by progressive cultural groups survive and become purified by the elimination of those groups inadequate for advancing civilization.

The revelators clearly state that self-maintenance, perpetuation, and gratification concern society. They further encourage the pursuit of self-realization to help move society and cultural groups toward true civilization. A discussion followed concerning the difference between self-actualization and self-realization. Humans suffer major confusion around these terms due to the widespread ignorance of the difference between the self and personality and the their relation to the progressing sequence of the terms potentiality, actuality, and reality. Listen to the archive for important details.

Anthropologists recognize a herd instinct and innate gregarious propensity in man as foundational to human society. We know these characteristics to be manifestations of the 5th adjutant. However, this is hardly sufficient to account for the development of the social organization existing on Urantia today. We’re told that the two great influences bringing about the early association of human beings were food hunger and sex love, two instincts held in common with our animal cousins. Two other emotions bringing and holding humans together were vanity and fear. We took time to examine the curious use by the revelators, the term sex love. This usage of the word love, which is expressed in its fullness only on the sixth LoM, in juxtaposition with sex, a first LoM term is designed to stimulate reflection on how our original interpretation of the word love needs to be moved higher up these levels.

Food hunger was man’s stimulus for reflective thought, with food saving his first self-denial and self-discipline. Here we see the beginning rudiments of self-mastery. Other sorts of hunger and the realization various additional needs led to the closer association of mankind. Here the author delivers another stronger indictment of today’s society pointing to the dangers in the overgrowth of supposed human needs, overload of luxury, and inordinate multiplication of human desires. In today’s world of heightened spiritual consciousness, man is seeking to satisfy his desire for ideals in material pursuits and pleasures. Only through the recognition of the supermaterial realm of meanings and values will man abandon the futile attempt to transmute the false exaltation of materialistic ideas into ideals. This is the often-cited planetary emergency to which the 5th ER is addressed. Between the lines we can infer that should the collapse of civilization occur, those fundamental stimuli for the most basic reflective thinking, hunger and fear will again find a prominent place in man’s consciousness.

The early social pressures of hunger, vanity, and ghost fear were ever present, whereas the sex urge was spasmodic and by itself is not the sole impulse in founding the home. The helplessness of infancy compelled woman to maintain a settled residence, and thus where woman was has always been considered as the home. The discussion following explored the important distinction between the parental instinct, shared by men and women in contrast to the more biologically rooted maternal instinct, so poignant in women and absent in men. Men and women are inherently not equal, but the struggle for equity between the sexes is a worthy pursuit of advancing civilization.

The indispensible role of women in the partnership of self-maintenance transcends her role as a means of sex gratification for the man, particularly in relation to food requirement. In addition to the sex gratification aspect, woman’s contributions as food provider, beast of burden, plus her long suffering in the face of abuse testify to her proclivity for sympathetic bonding with her partner. All of which is to suggest that the female choose carefully her partner lest she become the object of serious domestic maltreatment.

We are reminded that personal happiness is not the main function of marriage and home; rather, it is race survival, self-maintenance, and self-perpetuation. Survival is paramount, notwithstanding that the arts of civilization continue to increase the pleasures and satisfactions of marriage and family.

The author uses the word vanity as an umbrella term to include pride, ambition, and honor and explains that these motivations contribute to the formation and help sustain human associations. These propensities are also responsible for the early beginnings of art, ceremonial, and sportive competition.

The section ends with its third and most emphatic alarm to the dangers of the expansion and pursuit of the multitudinous forms of self-gratification with the solemn reminder; self-maintenance builds society; unbridled self-gratification unfailingly destroys civilization. Anyone feel the emergency?