Even in today’s world, the big question remains; what is a civilized society or who is a civilized person? The question, if asked to various sets of socio-economic people, one gets a variety of answers. It is sad to see that the basic constituent of a society of being “civilized” is not taught to children, and adults in their mundane life do not have time to think about this basic aspect. Though all so-called educated want to and live in a civilized fashion.
Rafael Winkler describes in his piece “The long walk from civilized and barbaric to a new world view” that “The Greeks were perhaps the first to hit on the idea of mankind as a group defined, beyond gender, race and class by a characteristic common to all humans. The Greeks believed that the bond that holds humanity together is reason or speech. They believed that, by teaching and learning, communication and discussions, reason joins men in a natural fellowship”. Hence one can say being human is being civilized, but even in the 21st century, one lives in a society that is difficult to describe as civilized. One sees inane speech, violence, racism, prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance across. The irony remains that with all the modern-day education, historical lessons, and innovations, still most of the societies can not be termed as “Sophisticated and Civilized.”
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How do we define a civilized society?
The civilized society must be considerate and must have empathy towards all genders, races, classes, and traditions that must reinforce these virtues. Once people are empathetic towards their weak, may it be children, old, women, transgender or disabled, only then will they protect them and develop traditions, rules and laws which are sympathetic towards their needs and requirements. The culture of empathy will ensure tolerance and patience in society. Once people are considerate only then they will give way to others on roads, they will start holding doors for others, they will be more aware of their surroundings, they will listen more and be polite in their speech. Being considerate of others’ needs is the first step towards forming a civilized society.
One can further strengthen the civilized society if an element of care becomes meaningful in everyone’s approach and thinking. Once people care about one another, then the deepest divisions, conflicts, and violence are eliminated. Not only self-interests and greed accumulate will be abridged, but also people will ensure that living standards and basic needs such as education, health, clean water, and the right to justice are available to all. Society becomes more inclusive, and people who feel entitled and want to be exclusive or demand protocols will be sidelined and put aside. Once the caring attitude is inculcated in the society, then the feudal mindset is eliminated, parliamentarians and government functionaries are forced to work for the benefit of the people. The media and judiciary make sure that the common man’s voice is heard and justice is provided without any bias.
Societies that are considerate and caring but also have a deep focus on the growth and development of the underprivileged people create happy societies. The level of corruption decreases as people not only think for themselves but people at large as well. The thinking changes from individualism to universalism. Not only one thinks of developing their own specie, but also protection of the environment, animals and planet earth also becomes important.
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Look around and see, is this a civilized society?
One understands that the growth of humans depends on the entirety of the ecosystem. A society that is empathetic, caring, and has a focus on the growth and development of fellow humans will have an egalitarian outlook, and people will fight for justice for others. The essence of democratic virtues will shine, and laws will be created to refine the living of all. The cliques and elite aristocracy will diminish, and equality will prevail.
Is there any tolerance towards minorities and the weak? Is there any empathy towards the underprivileged? Is there any thought of equality towards women? Is there any pain towards children who have not been educated and not given a fair chance at a better future? Is there any movement towards education, health and justice for all? One sees none rather rat race is increasing; No one believes and trusts that society will take care of their children or their old age; hence insecurities accelerate greed to accumulate—the self-overrides community.
To take a step towards a civilized society, we must first define the meanings of civility and then cascade its translation to all through continuous education. Ideally, the refinement of culture should take place, and traditions must incorporate empathy, care, and growth in their soul. This can be done if all the education and religious institutes and media make a promise to hammer these virtues on a daily basis. The uncouth and uncivilized must be called out while well-mannered and politeness must be appreciated. The DNA of the culture cannot be refined overnight, but at some time, somewhere, someone has to take a step in the right direction, and it can be YOU.
Moied Javeed is a senior telecom executive in Pakistan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.