Episode:Civilization—Primitive Institutions (Part 1)

From Symmetry of Soul

Civilized man takes great pride in his established institutions, but all human institutions are merely the accumulated mores of the past as they have been conserved by taboos and dignified by religion. Man should control his institutions rather than permit himself to be dominated by these creations of advancing civilization.

Listen to the broadcast

Keywords: Urantia, Self-Maintenance, Self-Perpetuation, Self-Gratification, Industry

Summary by Kermit

Commentary on Review

We followed up the issue of abortion from last week. Contrary to appearances and due to the man’s supermaterial endowments of mind and spirit, the question of the willful termination of pregnancy is not merely a material issue. While all manner of circumstances can be envisioned to surround specific instances of this question, the fact remains that the fact of human conception is a fact connected to eternity and as such has value laden with eternal implications. We are thus left to ask what are the implications for advancing civilization when today’s rapidly changing mores, allow for pregnancies to be ended for reasons of convenience and personal pleasure. After all, one of the purposes of an epochal revelation is to challenge established mores.

Paper 69. Primitive Human Institutions

We called attention to the meaning of the words “transcend” and “superior” in the opening paragraph of this paper’s preface. Transcend is used to establish a distinct upward separation between humans and animals when considering the human expression of humor, art, and religion, animals having no such expression. “Superior” connotes more of a continuum with respect to humans and animals in the roles of toolmaker and communicator; rudimentary features of which animals demonstrate. Some of the discrepancies between species of pre-humans and humans can be attributed to the practice of current archeologists call what are in actuality pre-humans, human because of these rudimentary tool making behaviors.

Foresight is a distinguishing feature of humans compared to animals and leads to institutionalization. And most of man’s institutions have turned out to save labor and enhance group security. All human institutions are declared to be merely the accumulated mores of the past as they have been conserved by taboos and dignified by religion. Man has a proclivity to existentialize these aspects of his social structure through the activity of the 6th adjutant. Today the character, stability and continuity of institutions is a source of pride to civilized man. Reflection shows that the institutionalization process occurs over time and we discussed the sequential implications in the words the revelators apply to the process, legacies of the past becoming traditions of the present becoming conventions going into the future. We further discussed this progression in relation to our three time-linked friends, preserve, observe, and conserve.

69:1. Basic Human Institutions

Note the distinction between primitive and basic institutions. In this portion of our arc we are looking at the early beginnings of human institutions, the foundations of which are the basis of developing human institutions going forward. Our human institutions while serving particular social needs, past or present, when overdeveloped can obscure the individual’s sense of worth and erode initiative. As the current political season unfolds, we see various expressions a sense of victimization of large portions of our population by the institutions of civil government. Our Melchizedek author admonishes us to control them rather than being dominated by them.

The three general classes of our basic institutions are derived from the three fundamental motivations for human association. These driving forces of food hunger, sex hunger, and vanity proclivities gave rise to the Institutions of self-maintenance, self-perpetuation, and self-gratification respectively.

The self-maintenance institutions include industry, property, war for gain, and all the regulative machinery of society. Fear is particularly prominent as instigators of these institutions of survival in the form of taboo, convention, and religious sanction. Yet as we are told, fear, ignorance, and superstition have contributed to the origin and development of all human institutions.

The institutions of self-perpetuation include, family life, education, ethics, religion, marriage customs, war for defense, and home building.

The institutions of self-gratification are comprised of customs in dress and personal adornment, social usages, war for glory, dancing, amusement, games, and other phases of sensual gratification. It’s interesting that the revelation states that our civilization has never evolved distinctive institutions of self-gratification, giving rise to the predicament we now face, (as we remember from our arc on marriage and family) that all of our institutions are shot through with the pleasure pursuit, and this represents the single greatest threat to the home, hence our current emergency. [84:8.2].

Who can fail to note the inclusion of the three motivations for war in these three classes of institutions:, gain, defense, and glory. True advanced civilization for any world is unattainable without the development of the institution war. This recognition is essential, and its correct interpretation for our future a requirement if we are progress into the advanced stages of civilization.

The fact that all three of these groups of social practices are so interrelated and interdependent such that they function as a single social mechanism testifies to the role of human personality action—freewill choice in maintaining the integrity of civilization. The breakdown of civilization is characterized not so much by the deterioration of its individual institutional elements, but by disconnection of these elements into a disordered collection of individual parts.

69:2 The Dawn of Industry

The fear of famine led to the development of primitive industry. Even in this achievement, man did not initially demonstrate foresight, but rather learned from the instinctual behavior of animals. Prior to this step forward, man’s natural estate was one of destitution and real suffering. Ability to accumulate a surplus results from labor, knowledge and organization. These are anything but natural. They are artificial as in an art form of human superimposition on the natural world. Primitive man was naturally lazy and averse to hard work. He was never in a hurry save in periods of grave danger. Time as an element in labor is an entirely modern notion. The necessity for labor is great blessing for man and this was ennobled and modeled in the early epochal dispensations of the Planetary Prince and Material Son and Daughter.

To illustrate how slow foresight was to develop in man and underscoring man’s gambling nature in always seeking to get something for nothing, his early success derived from patient practice, were frequently attributed to charms and magic. And magic was slow to give way before foresight, self-denial, and industry.