The Society of HumanKind
How to cope with the inevitability and finality of death was one of the more disturbing of the many troubling questions which prompted the writing of 'Foundations'. It also provided the motive for the proposal to establish the Society of HumanKind. The hope which that first founding book creates is that by our own efforts in and through the Society we will gain eternal life for ourselves and for every member of our species. If we are to dedicate ourselves to the achievement of that Aim we must truly believe that it will be realised. The corollary must be an equal conviction that both the dead and the yet to be born are not forever lost to us, a consequence which gives the Treatise on Morality its force.
Adherence to the Society of HumanKind and a sincere commitment to its Aim must mean that we believe the death of an individual to be no more than a transition from one state of existence to another. That assurance may provide some comfort to us when we face our own mortality but it can offer little to help us to cope with the passing of those we love. Death will still irrecoverably separate us from them. The Society will not give its support to any attempt to communicate with the dead. The risks involved for the natural progression of our history, and for the achievement of our Aim are incalculable and therefore unacceptable. We must learn to accept that once we have lost one of our companions to death, they are gone to us for the rest of our lives. The Society and our faith in it may lead us to the confident hope that we will meet them again, and in better circumstances, but we will still have to live without them, and with the pain and distress of their absence.
Much of the pain of death for the living comes from a sense of loss. It marks an end to all the possibilities both for ourselves and for the departed that might have been realised by a longer life. Yet the Principle of Peace and the Treatise on the Individual both emphasise our inability to judge the value of the existence of any individual with any certainty. How then can we even estimate what any individual might have contributed to our society had they lived longer? How can we begin to guess what might have happened in our lives had they still been with us? An understanding of the Principle of Peace must lead us to recognise that we have no measure by which we can judge whether it was better for any individual to have lived a longer, or for that matter, a shorter life.
Or even to have lived at all. Only if the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma is followed by a realisation of the Aim of the Society of HumanKind will we be able to say with any confidence that every individual lived for as long as was needed, and that they made their proper contribution to the survival and progress of humanity. Only then can we be sure that no-one lives or dies in vain. If that Aim is not realised however, then no matter how great the impact of any human life, or how valuable its contribution to the history of our species, both for us and for the departed, all will vanish like a stick snatched from water, leaving no trace.
We honour the dead therefore by working to reunify humanity outside the constraints of our mortality, which is the cause of their loss to us. We cannot ease our pain by attempting to estimate the value of their lives, because we have no means to make that judgement. All we can do is to strengthen our resolve to accomplish their salvation, a task to which they can make no further contribution.
Let us therefore mark the occasion of death as the moment simply to give thanks for the life of the departed. If we truly believe that the Objective of the Dogma will be achieved then we must be confident that the existence of the deceased will contribute to that success. In that faith we can rededicate ourselves to the discharge of our Duty, through a renewed determination to build the realisation of the Aim of the Society of HumanKind upon the work and achievements of all our predecessors, not just the one that might be specially in our thoughts.
In the presence of death we must look to the future and give thanks for our existence; our culture; our knowledge; our peace; and our unity. That is the priceless gift of the dead and the foundation on which we must build our hopes for their salvation, and for that of all humanity.
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