The Society of HumanKind
The Axioms are summarised by the proposition that we are alone. That is not to say that our species is the sole representative of humankind, nor that other intelligent life-forms may not exist in the universe. In the uncertain era of the Society of HumanKind such unequivocal statements cannot safely be made. But what the Society does say, in the light of its Axioms and following from its choice of the Dogma, is that the safety, survival and salvation of humankind is entirely and solely in our own hands.
The Axioms tell us that there is no omnipotent power or being to guide and protect our species, nor any inevitable progression in our history to give predictability and safety to our existence. Indeed, by attributing our origins and our development to chance the Axioms imply that human history is a unique series of events, with no inherent meaning or purpose. The practical effect of these implications of the Axioms is to expose humanity to the utter uncertainty set out in the Treatise of Knowledge.
At first sight that may seem an entirely negative and destructive outcome of an acceptance of the Axioms. Yet they also give rise to the emancipating consequence that the future of our species is not preordained, and the discovery that we are truly free to choose our own fate. By surrendering the illusion of the possibility of certainty in human knowledge we gain the liberty to choose our destiny for ourselves. But freedom on this scale, real freedom, arouses in us the fears of childhood; of inadequacy and of the possibility of catastrophic failure. That fear is justified, because our situation in the universe is indeed precarious.
As far we are aware our entire species originates on, and is confined to, a single planet on the remote edge of a galaxy that, to our present knowledge, contains no other humanly habitable environment. On our home planet we are totally dependent on the continued presence of a layer of gases clinging to its surface. A brief removal or slight alteration in the composition of our atmosphere could instantly destroy us all.
At the same time seas cover four fifths of the surface of our world, a habitat hostile to humanity. Even on the habitable parts of the land surface of our world we are obliged to struggle with the elements to feed, clothe and protect ourselves. While we do so, we must breathe continuously, and feed, drink and sleep at regular frequent intervals. To survive as a species we must undertake complex social and physical behaviour in order to reproduce in a manner that is temporarily disabling and fraught with injurious risk to one half of our kind, and results in young who are totally dependent for many years. In all and on any detached view, our emergence as a dominant life form on our planet must be regarded as surprising. Our qualifications for permanent occupation of that position, or even long term survival as a species, can also only be assessed as poor.
Earlier ideas of the nature and purpose of human existence have, on occasion, made much of the superficial observation that many of the features of our world are supportive of human life. Those systems of ideas have even gone so far as to say that those features are proof of the existence of their God, or whatever they posit as the originator or creator of our species. But in doing so they neglect the equally valid, but opposite, form of that argument; which is, that we could not have emerged nor survived as a species in our present form had we not been, or rapidly become, well adapted to our environment. Those, now largely discredited, defences of God and his competitors also ignore observations, such as those set out in this Treatise, which tend to show that we are not, in fact, well equipped or adapted to exist in even our fragile world. In sum and on any balanced view, the occurrence and continuing precariousness of human existence are both indeed remarkable.
Yet our history is a constant repetition of themes of death and destruction directed against each other for reasons which, given the perspective of a harsh and uncaring universe, must raise doubts about our collective sanity. The present generation has, for example, amassed an arsenal of weapons whose sole use is the destruction of human beings and whose capacity is sufficient to destroy our entire world and every member of our species many times over. That capacity has, moreover, been acquired and developed with great difficulty, by the application of some of our best skills and abilities, and at enormous cost in terms of the alternative use to which that expenditure and effort could have been put. And the only justification advanced for developing that tremendous capacity to kill each other is that it is required to protect us from each other. Therein lies the insanity. The era of the Society of HumanKind will mark an end to such madness.
The means and methods by which the Society of HumanKind will finally bring a permanent peace between the different varieties of humankind are both complex and novel in human experience. An understanding of those means and methods is gained from four major sources in these founding books of the Society.
It begins with a grasp of the consequences of the Society's double choice: first, of the Objective of the Dogma as the purpose of our lives; that is, to save ourselves by discovering a means to extend our lives beyond death, and second, of its adoption of its Aim; which is, to use the opportunity so gained to reunite all past, present and future generations of humankind in a new immortal existence. On that base are constructed the Principle 2.1; which shows the impossibility of making any reliable estimate of the relative value of any of the attributes of any member of our species during our lives, and the Principle 3.1; which points to co-operation with others of our kind as our only recourse when faced with any real difficulty.
Taken together, those two Principles show that an achievement of the Objective of the Dogma and Aim of the Society is best served by widening rather then reducing the range of qualities, characteristics and capacities available within the human species, and by then maintaining peaceful and cooperative social conditions which will allow that greater human diversity to be combined and focussed on our survival and development. The greater the variety existing in the total human population and the more closely we are combined together, the better equipped we will be as a species to face the unpredictable challenges and risks of the future, including of course those arising from the pursuit of the Objective of the Dogma and the Aim of the Society. In seeking to preserve and extend human variety and difference within stable and peaceful communities the Society is thus concerned not only to protect and preserve every living individual but also to foster and encourage their unique individuality as the Treatise of the Individual makes explicit.
The view of Society of HumanKind is therefore, that instead of being feared as it has too often been in the past, variation and difference in all its forms must be fostered and encouraged in the human species and its society. The Society will argue that the vital interest of every member of humanity is best pursued by encouraging and preserving the widest possible range of diversity and difference in our species, rather than by its reduction, suppression or elimination. The Society of Humanity will thereby bring humanity to understand that, far from being a cause for conflict, the existence of difference within our species, from whatever cause, should be regarded as a source of joy and hope.
Having set out the views of the Society on questions of variation and difference within the human family it remains to translate those conclusions into a practical programme of day-to-day activities. As the earlier discussion shows, all forms of violence and aggressive conflict between individuals and groups, not just those based on real or perceived individual, national, social, political or racial difference, ought to become a rare aberration after the establishment of the Society of HumanKind.
Regrettably however, our history provides a mass of lamentable evidence to dampen that hope. It contains innumerable episodes where we have striven, or have been driven, to kill one another on the least pretext, despite the existence of generally accepted and well-founded moral codes that condemn such behaviour. It is unsafe therefore, to rely on the establishment of the Society of HumanKind to eliminate violent and self-destructive behaviour from humankind, since its predecessors among our social institutions have failed to do so in the past. If any inference can be drawn from our history on this subject it must surely be that it would be wiser to assume that our species has, or has developed, self-destructive qualities and characteristics that are too deeply ingrained and too common ever to be wholly suppressed.
The Society of HumanKind must therefore take it to be vital to the discharge of its Duty that, within the bounds of its own Principles, it should do all it can to shape our social lives so that any violent or destructive capacity we may have is not turned against the order of our communities, nor used in any other way to bring about the risk of our extinction. To that end the Society can, and should, advocate and foster its own definition of the desired state of human society. Its stated aim should be the creation of a world-wide, but locally based, community of all humanity that displays sufficient peace, stability and continuity to enable the qualities of every individual, including those which have the potential to be turned to violence or destruction, to be employed to further our survival and the progress of our knowledge.
In that effort the Society will have to overcome deep-seated difficulties. Among the patterns of behaviour that have, in the past, most commonly threatened the peace of human society, are the powerful impulses of territoriality, personal and familial aggrandisement, competition for dominance, and the urge to gain power over others. These seem to be especially common in the male part of our species. The Society recognises on other grounds that these characteristics are not necessarily harmful in themselves. In our primeval period there were, no doubt, good and beneficial reasons for our possession of them, and for toleration of their expression. And it would be wrong to presume those violent and aggressive qualities will never again be needed to counter some presently unforeseeable threat of destruction to our species. But in the search for peace in human society they represent the gravest risk to our social order, and hence our survival, that the Society can identify with any confidence and yet also hope to control.
It cannot be denied that it is possible to develop human social structures that will deal with this problem. Our history also provides many examples of communities that exhibit both stability and peace, at least in their internal relationships. That not infrequent record of success in maintaining peaceful communities despite the apparent universality of a potential for conflict and self-destruction in the human species, must give hope to the Society in its search for a social order that will support the pursuit of its Aim. Aggression, competition and similar potentially violent behaviour may be common characteristics of humanity, but they are not the only, nor even the most important. Our common experience of social life may show a pattern of mutual conflict, but it is at the same time a chronicle of the invariable communal nature of our species, and of our unavoidable interdependence.
There has never been a period in our history when humanity has not sought to live in groups and communities, and struggled to maintain peaceful co-operative relationships within them. Our past contains more than sufficient evidence to show that our species has a strong desire and hope for safety and security by and through the establishment of settled and stable communities, and a longing to live at peace with those we recognise as our own kind, which has been and remains an almost universal human aspiration. It is on that equally powerful quality of humanity, on its communal nature and on our need for mutually supportive relationships with others of our kind, that the Society must seek to build a social order which will contain, and try to turn to advantage, the destructive tendencies of our species.
That set of observations provides the key to the creation and maintenance of peace by the Society of HumanKind. Every member of our species shares a hope for peace through a co-operative communal life. Through the Society of HumanKind and by its Principle of Unity they can be drawn to recognise and accept their fundamental dependence on, and their commonalty with, not just their neighbours, compatriots and those they may regard as their like kind, but the whole of humanity. On those foundations the Society can build a form of social order that will successfully contain and safely redirect our self destructive proclivities.
And the simple fact is that that basis for peace is laid as soon as the Axioms are accepted. As is concluded in the Principle 3.1, acceptance of the Axioms requires us to abandon our childish delusions of omnipotence, reject the possibility that there is some power or purpose that will save us from ourselves, and come at last to accept and understand that we have no hope or resource beyond each other if we are to undertake any task beyond the capacity of any single individual.
Such tasks include not only our individual survival and our battle both with our hostile environment and to preserve its limited resources, but also the Objective of the Dogma if we make that the purpose of our lives. The lesson of the Axioms is therefore, that co-operation and mutual support is the only path by which humanity may hope, first to anticipate, and then to avoid, the dangers, both within and between our communities, that constantly threaten to annihilate us both individually and as a species. Any detached assessment of our own individual best interests both in the present and for the future must lead us to ridicule any suggestion that we should spend any more effort than is absolutely necessary on conflict between ourselves, or on developing or refining means to kill each other.
These arguments and conclusions are at their most powerful when applied to the conduct of adherents of the Society of HumanKind. The force of their desire for peace is immeasurably increased by their affirmation of the Aim, Duty and Responsibility of the Society of HumanKind. By that decision they reinforce their natural desire for peace with recognition of new and powerful duties and obligations. They thereby come to understand that the living generation is the embodiment and repository of the contribution of every member of every earlier generation to the survival and progress of our species. It is, at the same time, the sole custodian of the hopes of the whole of humanity past, present and future, for salvation and an afterlife beyond the finality of death.
The passion for peace of adherents of the Society will not only arise from the common, simple, desire of humanity to live in a stable, protective social order. Adherents will also know that any action, mistake, neglect or omission that seriously undermines our peace threatens the destruction of the entire living generation, and with it the extinction of our species. Any such error will put at risk the aspirations of the deceased and of the yet to be born, to share in the eternal life of the reunification of humanity which will follow the realisation of the Aim of the Society. To the Society and its adherents therefore, peace among humanity is indistinguishable from the pursuit of its Aim. To them, the growth and progress of the Society and the spread of peace, are one and the same thing.
So that, whatever its success in the pursuit of its Aim, and irrespective of any progress toward the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma, the establishment of the Society of HumanKind will at least have one beneficial consequence. It will provide every member of our species with both a means and a powerful reason to live at permanent peace in their environment, and with all their neighbours.
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