it’s fun to compare society, populated by millions of collaborative human beings depending on each others’ skills… to a human body populated by trillions of synergistic body cells. I’ve always found comparisons between people and body cells… between society and the human body… to be both fascinating and insightful. The only trouble is…
Humans are not body cells!
(You might enjoy watching these two video clips simultaneously, for the sake of comparison… MM)
Cells in the body…
People in society…
Interestingly, while we all agree that humans aren’t body cells, we could all use that fact to support our own political views.
For example, we could…
…Justify capitalism and free enterprise. Being noble-savage by nature, people aren’t all that collaborative, really. They have a noble side that compels them to love and to trust and to express good will, but they also have a savage side, driven largely by hormones and egos, that makes them restless. By nature people tend not only to work together and to wish the best for others… but also to compete with each other, to gather goods and wealth for material security, and to protect and defend themselves and their loved ones against the dangers around them. If they’re too trusting, they get taken advantage of. A free enterprise social environment lets our noble-savage nature flourish, encouraging individuals to be strong and wary. So let’s celebrate human nature and promote human rights. We’re not body cells… why bother trying to be?
…Justify socialism and communism. Sure, people are noble-savage creatures, but it’s the noble side that should dominate in social interactions, so that people operate mostly on good will, trust, and love. All facets of society, from families and schools to businesses and the legal system, need to work together to tame the savage side. First, ensure everyone’s needs are met. Then, focus on cooperation, not competition. Discourage selfish motivations pursued at the expense of others. Sustain a safe, peaceful, wholesome social environment through right education and an intolerance for crime and graft. So let’s work together to forge human nature into a noble thing for the sake of social stability and peace. We’re not body cells, but we could learn from their magnificent synergy.
…Justify religious political systems, such as modern Islamic society. People are both good and evil… noble and savage. The best way and the easiest way to bring out the good in people and to curtail the bad is through centralized scriptures that describe people’s savage qualities and lay out clear guidelines on how to deal with them. For example, if sexuality is disruptive, don’t let people dress and behave provocatively. If drugs and alcohol are disruptive, don’t let people use them. Simply lay out clearly in scripture what is and is not acceptable, and spread that information throughout society… so that it prevails at home, at school, in the workplace, in the Mosque, in government… everywhere. Connect noble human behavior to God or Allah so that everyone has a most personal stake in it, and society will flourish in stable fashion. So let’s be the best that we can be: noble-savage creatures aspiring to the divine. Not only are we not body cells; we can raise ourselves above the pain and the inhumanity—the clatter of this noble-savage world—altogether if we submit to the will of God.
The Spirit of Society
My research has convinced me that we humans are timeless spiritual beings enjoying a brief carnal existence. Our mind is a rich treasure of knowledge, thoughts, and attitudes, many of which we pick up during our lifetime on Earth. The mind is not just part of our physical body but also part of our spirit, which is superimposed over our body in a subtler dimension.
Read more about our spiritual make-up
When we die, our mind leaves the physical body and lives on only as part of our spirit.
So the body, mind and spirit are enmeshed as long as we’re alive… and then the body leaves the picture.
If we think of society as a living thing, then it’s reasonable to assume that it, too, has a mind and spirit.
The spirit of society would include the collective knowledge, thoughts and attitudes of all the people in society. Different societies with different political systems would look different spiritually.
- The spirit of a free-market, capitalist nation would be noble-savage in nature, free-wheeling and untamed, maybe a bit chaotic… reflecting the full range of human thoughts, attitudes, and compulsions.
- The spirit of a communist country would be more stable, more sedate… reflecting the people’s collective thoughts and attitudes that have been forged through earnest, rigorous education and social pressure to remove most of the savage impurities.
- The spirit of a religion-based society would be even more stable, more unified… reflecting the religious teachings instilled in all the people… tempered by spiritual knowledge that’s helped connect their flawed outer minds to their perfect innermost souls through years of religious practice.
This isn’t to suggest that religion is a surefire way to a healthy, stable society. We’re all flawed, noble-savage humans, after all… and religions were created by us flawed, noble-savage humans.
So it’s inevitable that a lot of misconceptions, strange creeds, and harmful dogmas have gotten raveled up in the scriptures and spiritual truths of all world religions… for example:
- the protection of fetuses at the neglect of orphans and abused children;
- the persecution and murder of pagans, heretics, and infidels;
- the taming of human sexuality through the repression, abuse, or genital disfigurement of women; and
- the disregard of God and ethereal beings while praising ‘lower-level’ ancestral spirits.
Different religions… different misconceptions and dogmas.
Still, highly religious societies have a nobler spirit than purely secular societies, if for no other reason than they ensure that some degree of spiritual understanding is part of everyone’s mental model of reality… and that bridge between the conscious mind and the soul… between the material and spiritual worlds… it all boils over into society in a wonderful, stabilizing way.
Other articles on politics and spirituality:
Politics & the human spirit – Spirit of Society – The carnal line between noble and savage – Embrace the divine; it’s where we shine – Human spirituality and politics – Capital punishment & the human spirit
I’d say that’s reasonably accurate. None are perfect but at least the religious societies focus on some important moral priorities that are possibly close to non-existent in capitalistic & communist societies.