The marks of a progressing civilization

I’ve been reflecting on a quote from Thomas Moore, in his book, The Re-Enchantment with Everyday Life. I posted a part of it on Facebook and it has raised some really good questions.  Moore writes,

We mark our progress as a civilization by what we see as advances in hardware, and that criterion, assumed so readily by the population at large, blinds us to other possible values such as community, reverence, wisdom, the care and education of children, and the condition of the natural world. I would wish to be a member of a community that judeged itself on the happiness of its children rather than on the unhindered flow of its mechanical inventions… Enchantment arises whenever we move so deeply into anything we’re doing that its interiority stirs the heart and the imagination.

An enchanted ecology comes into being when our concern for the environment goes beyond materialistic elements in nature and culture: to children rather than machines, trees rather than excessive paper products, and home rather than shelter.

When I desire the happiness in our children, and mark our progress as humanity by that, I am not referring to children as never crying. I am not ruling out other marks of a progressive society, but merely desiring a shift in priority. What does our society claim as proof of our progression? Happiness is something more than self-satisfied, self-interested, and self-serving. It something greater than an innocent or unaware naivety. There is a fantastic article in YES! Magazine on the History of Happiness.

The Lakota Indian tribe have a value that they seek to make their decisions with a full consideration of the next seven generations. Do we do this? Do we care or wonder how our children’s children’s children will be affected by what we are doing now? I think rarely.

I believe in the evolution of humanity. I believe that we can continue to grow into a more loving, conscious, considerate, and aware society. And I also believe in the de-evolution of humanity. I believe we can grow into a more ignorant, more spiritually numb, more selfish, less connected with Spirit in the natural world, and more abusive. What are we doing to move in one direction versus the other?

I don’t buy the Christian doctrine of original sin… that being that we are all inherently sinful and destined to hell and also that the earth is slowly moving towards destruction and that the way out is to believe a certain specific set of beliefs. I believe more that we have been made stewards of this great planet and that we are to move in the direction of more love. This is our God-given destiny. I also don’t buy the Western ideals of progress and expansion… that more technology is better, more consumption means prosperity, money is king, and stronger is better.

Let’s prioritize deeper, happier, more connected, more loving, generations to come, and ideals. We can’t afford not to.

One thought on “The marks of a progressing civilization

  1. I think you can hold the concepts of Original Sin and Destined Goodness in tension together. I believe we were FIRST created to be perfect, holy, loving stewards of this earth, AND that we turned away from it then, and can choose each day which direction our thoughts and actions go.


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