The Society will not supplant or replace any existing, or future, sincere belief about the meaning and purpose of our lives. It is simply an addition to that ever-growing list. But it is different. To put it bluntly, the Society does not offer 'truth', or even 'the truth'. Joining the Society will not make you a member of any sort of elite, nor will it let you into any 'secrets' or 'mysteries' about ourselves or our universe.
What you will get is a new definition of the meaning and purpose of our lives. With it comes a sound set of rules and principles by which you can decide how you ought to live your life and what you should do with it. One of those rules is that you should never assume that other peoples beliefs are wrong, or less 'true' than your own. Another is that no human knowledge or belief is, or ever can be, ultimately certain, including therefore, the beliefs of the Society itself.
All these ideas are fully explained, and their implications examined, in the two founding books published on this website, as you will know if you have read them. Assuming that you have (or even if you haven't), are you now thinking about joining the Society?
You should do so only if you are sure either that you need to replace your existing beliefs about humanity's meaning and purpose, or that you really have to have answers to those questions. If you are comfortable with what you already believe, or are not yet too much bothered about such things, then the Society is not for you. By all means continue to browse this website, but don't let it stop you getting on with your life, and enjoying it.
Because joining the Society is a serious step. For example, you will have to accept that nothing you know is as certain as you thought it was. You will also have to do without any authority higher than yourself and your fellow Society members when you are trying to deal with the difficult problems life throws up. And while you are dealing with those other people you really will have to treat all of them as equal in importance and value as yourself. Different, of course, but never either 'better' or 'worse' than you.
You will also have to take on a raft of new personal responsibilities. They include obligations to the whole of your own generation and all its predecessors among humankind, as well as to all future generations. You will owe all those people a duty to do all you can to ensure that the human species exists into the infinite future, and that it does so under conditions that will allow human knowledge and skills to grow continuously. Joining the Society is therefore likely to be an entirely new departure for you, bringing a set of very different challenges.
To take just one example from the earlier discussion. The Society cannot predict what knowledge, skills or abilities it will need to achieve its Aim. That is why it regards every individual and all their talents, abilities and potentialities as being of equal worth, equally to be fostered and developed. Which means that when you join the Society you do so on the same level, and on the same footing, as every other member, whoever they are and whatever their background, social position, experience or opinions.
Another significant difference between the Society and other groups you might wish to join is set out in the seventh Ordinance and discussed in the Essay on the Authority of the World Council . It is that any desire or wish to be elected to any office in the Society will disqualify you from it. So don't join the Society because you are looking for an opportunity to use your dynamic, 'go-getting', leadership qualities. Or because you have some sort of 'single-issue' mission or campaign in mind, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, animal rights, racial purity or whatever, and think you might be able to steer the Society in that direction, or find a ready source of new recruits. Apart from reaching your full potential as a unique individual, the only ambition allowed in the Society is for the achievement of its Aim .
Of course the Society wants to change the world, and when it is fully established all human life will be transformed. But remember that the Society believes all human knowledge to be uncertain, including its own ideas. So neither the Society nor any of its members can justify imposing any of its views on others, or even attempting to do so. Which greatly restricts its capacity to initiate, or join, the kind of 'single-issue' campaign so popular in our times. All these ideas, and what methods the Society can use to solve the problems of the world, are both more fully examined in the Treatise on Relationships and elsewhere.
If you still want to join the Society, its structure and organisation is described in the Treatise on the Constitution of the Society of HumanKind , and admission to membership is discussed in the Essay on Evangelism , which is also generally useful on the ideas discussed here. The necessary forms and declarations can be accessed through the links in the 'Applications' paragraph at the end of the 'Next Steps' section of the 'Introduction' to the founding books. The process involves a nominal cost and has a certain formality, but that is only to make sure you have fully thought through what you are doing, and why, before you commit yourself.
Oh, and by the way. If you do decide to join you don't have to stay any longer than you want. You can leave any time you like without permission, sanction, penalty, argument, or even disapproval. We only want independently minded people who have carefully and critically considered the founding literature of the Society and then decided, without any prompting or even encouragement from us, to chose our Aim for themselves. And who are then wise enough to leave if they later decide they have made a mistake.
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©Lawrence Thornton Roach
April, 2001 AD