The Society of HumanKind
One effect of the Axioms, set out in the Principle of Unity, is to do away with the concept of an original model of either man or woman, or a perfect example of humanity, as a guide to the process of preparing a child for its life as an adult. Such idealistic ideas have had a powerful influence on our child-rearing in the past, but they must now be dismissed by the Society of HumanKind. The whole subject of child-rearing will have to be rebuilt on the new basis of the Axioms, Dogma and Principles.
At the same time it would be the height of folly to ignore the accumulated experience of our predecessors in these matters. They seem to have managed to solve these problems well enough to preserve our species through the many thousands of years of our presence on this planet. What is needed in the era of the Society therefore, is not a root and branch rejection of all past child-rearing practice. It is a review and reassessment of the subject that applies the insight provided by the Axioms.
That perspective first reveals that, while the ideal-model approach is common, there is a wide variety in child rearing practice across the range of human communities. That diversity cannot be attributed to differences in any of the fundamental characteristics or attributes of our species, nor can it be explained by fluctuations in our need to live in stable communities. The variety in child-rearing seems to result from a combination of differences in culture and shifts in thinking on the subject. There is, for instance, a wide range of definitions of the ideal-model of humankind, and numerous theories about the nature of children and their needs. There is also considerable divergence in views of the nature of the responsibilities of adults toward children, both within and between differing human communities.
The approach of the Society to child-rearing practice will begin with a recognition that it will need to comply with two very different Principles. The requirement of the Principle of Peace is that every quality and characteristic of each individual must be equally valued. Its consequent conclusion, reached in the Treatises on the Individual and on Relationships, is that we should foster the widest possible degree of variety in the human species. On the other hand, the Principle of Progress requires us arrange our affairs in ways conducive to the preservation of our social order.
Both those Principles will have to be accommodated in our child-rearing if the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma and the discharge of the Responsibility of the Society are to be progressed. As in so many aspects of our social life, the difference between the Society and its predecessors is that, in the era of the Society, there is no external or independent authority to which we can appeal, or on which we can base our judgements in those difficult matters.
A good start can be made to the process of resolving these problems as they face the Society of HumanKind by applying the precept of the uncertainty of all human knowledge to the problem. The Society will conclude from its understanding of our uncertainty that it should base its view of any child-rearing method on the outcome rather than on arguments about the theoretical appropriateness, cohesion, consistency, necessity, or whatever of the approach. The Society will thus focus on the effect of childhood training on the survival and progress of human society, rather than any over consideration, including, it should be particularly noted, the developmental needs of the individual.
A second simplifying step in dealing with child-rearing in the era of the Society is to apply the priority between our survival and our progress set out in the Treatise on Knowledge. There it was noted that the growth of our knowledge presupposes the survival of our species, while the reverse is not necessarily true. It will therefore be primarily the Principle of Progress that will need to be borne in mind by the Society in its attention to child-rearing. The Society must require that the overriding consideration in the development of any child is that its presence in the world should present no substantial threat to that stable state of co-operative social order that is a fundamental prerequisite for the maintenance of the primary of the two Conditions of the Dogma. In sum, the Society must demand that the paramount objective in child-rearing should be the creation of an individual who poses no substantial threat to the peace and stability of the community that supports them.
This Essay has, so far, stressed the importance of the application of the Principle of Progress to child-rearing, and the need to preserve our social order. It may seem therefore, to create an in-built tendency toward repression in the era of the Society, in order to create a safe uniformity and conformity in its children. That bias will however, always be balanced by the Principle of Peace with its emphasis on the importance of ensuring that every child should reach its full potential. That element of individualism in child rearing practice is also necessary to the achievement of the Aim of the Society. Regrettably therefore, this is yet another example of the many complex social and moral questions facing the Society which cannot finally be resolved before they arise. As with other, similar, problems it must be left to future generations to solve the constant changing problem of reconciling the differing requirements of the Principles of Peace and Progress in the matter of child-rearing.
However, that conclusion does not end the discussion of this Essay. Broad guidance to those future generations can be given. Put simply, the rule must always be that the Society should aim to ensure that any constraints which may be put upon the full and free development of any child in order to protect our social stability are justified strictly on that ground alone, and are, in any event, confined to the absolute minimum necessary for that purpose. By that approach our social order may be properly protected without contravening the general intent of the Principle of Peace.
Any careful consideration of the seemingly differing purposes of the Principles of Peace and Progress is bound to find room for both an honest divergence of opinion on, and for diversity in, child-rearing practice. But, as has already been noted, the priorities which follow from the Axioms, Dogma and Principles are crystal clear. In the era of the Society of HumanKind it will at all times and in all circumstances be preferable to suppress even the most exceptional genius rather than to leave any real risk to our survival and social stability unchecked. We can always hope that an outstanding individual may be replicated if our society survives. If however, we threaten our social order by negligence or indulgence in child-rearing, we not only threaten the extinction of our species, but we also remove the opportunity for even the greatest genius to exploit his or her talents.
These conclusions may not be easily accepted by those who are accustomed to a view of the world which sees the problem of child-rearing as being to reconcile the imperfect child with a set of vague, competing and often conflicting models of the attributes of the perfect adult, which was the common framework of many earlier systems of thought on this subject. But one of the greatest benefits of an acceptance of the Axioms is to simplify and bring to unity ideas which were formerly often considered to be only loosely connected if not regarded as actually diametrically opposed.
In the field of child-rearing that means to understand that the maintenance of the Conditions of the Dogma in order to further the achievement of its Objective, and thus create the opportunity for the Society of HumanKind to realise its Aim, serves both the long- and the short-term best interests of the whole of humanity as well as every individual member of our species. That purpose requires both co-operation with, and subservience to, the needs of the wider community by every member of humanity. The Aim of the Society and all its benefits for humankind also rest on a commitment by each individual to the full development of their own unique set of attributes as the only correct and effective way of making that contribution. It is the need to strike a balance between these parallel responsibilities that is the principal theme of this Essay. The proper form of that careful equilibrium is summarised in the proposition that it is for each individual to pursue excellence by self-development, but it is for the Society to constrain and suppress the expression of that ambition where there is any danger that the emergent attributes and characteristics of any individual may threaten our social order.
The primary requirement of child-rearing after the establishment of the Society of HumanKind will be to permeate all aspects of the development of children with the Principle of Progress, and thus with the idea of putting duty to others before concern with self. The Society can then overlay that base with an understanding of the importance of the Principle of Peace with its emphasis on personal and individual development as the proper means to serve others.
Child-rearing in the Axiomatic age will thus reflect the truth of the message of unity, peace and progress which encapsulates the philosophy of the Society of HumanKind. The Society will understand that the value of the unity of the human species arises only from our variety and diversity. If an epigram can embody so complex and important an aspect of our lives, it is that the duty of the Society is to teach all its children that variety in humanity without unity is purposeless, while unity without variety is valueless.
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