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Humanism, Love and the Concept of the Mean as related to Society



The end of the Dark Ages saw the emergence of man from the bondage of fanaticism. For almost one thousand years religious zealotry had bound Western man in an artificial cocoon of authoritarian slavery to a tyrant God that offered a contract sealed with a provisional form of love. Instead of allowing the Western world to prosper it brought all human progress to an end, and created the exact opposite of the ideals, which its founder had endorsed. Instead of the unlimited love, which would allow man to break down the artificial boundaries of National and economic division, and the emotional boundaries of hate, religion as government, 1 and God as Monarch had erected a bureaucracy of laws and contracts by which man bartered with God for his future spiritual life, while enduring a world of slavery and misery; depriving him of the warmth and joy of the expanded viewpoint which the true love of Christ engendered. Through Humanism, free will again was known to the world, and the bounty of thought expanded by the emotional freedom of true love and understanding. Law could once again be fettered with compassion and generosity; and viewpoint expanded to contemplate new ideas, and new ways of understanding old ideas. Thus the Renaissance was born, and found in the arts and sciences of the “heathen” and “infidel” the ideas to bring joy and progress again into the lives of men and women. The term Humanism was coined to show man the way to true freedom and true joy. The original meaning of love, as the Christ had meant it, began to emerge, and its light once again shown forth on the earth.

But in the passage of time, the underlying cause of this new awakening was lost again in the license, which free will often engenders, to replace the love, which was the true cause of this reawakening.

Since the underlying infrastructure of religion and economic bondage did not in essence change, but was only revamped to fit in with the new course events had taken; and human greed was still alive and well in the will of man; the Humanist attitude was immersed into the economic and National viewpoint, and the result was the emergence of the middle class, who changed the innovations of free will into a capitalistic windfall. So in the end the rise of Humanism was only a signal for a change of focus or attention, from the stultifying action of fanaticism, into the licentious progress of economics.

But there had been an important change of view introduced, and this was the importance of free will in the lives of all men. Man was a prisoner of his own free will. In throwing off the extreme bondage of religious fanaticism to a Monarch God, at least in emphasis, he had learned to expand his societies and create a wider worldview. But greed had immediately immersed this important advancement into the allurements, which economics held out. Man had only gone from immersion in one extreme, religious-government, into an immersion into an opposite extreme, economic-government. 2 Both were at root grounded in greed, either in the form of moral power, or in the form of material benefit and passions.

The Renaissance had changed the emphasis of man’s outlook, but had not avoided allowing him to again immerse himself in excess, although now at the opposite end of the spectrum.

The Chinese had undergone a very similar experience much earlier than their Western counterparts; their society began to unravel just as ours has today begun to unravel under the economic-government we have evolved since the Renaissance. Confucius, similarly to Caesar and Christ, brought out his ideas, which broached the same territory, but added the concept of the mean, or walking in the middle. Here, Chinese philosophy less grounded in principles, and more in conduct and its effects, showed how to avoid the extremes which the West seems never able to. The middle ground, which we have so far not found, is the true love that Christ spoke of. It is the same non-contractual love that has allowed societies to originally form through the cooperation of equals. Since it has its origins in innate rights and duties which man feels intuitively towards all others (in other words in the love all are born with), it needs no laws or contracts to sanctify it. It is the underpinnings and true infrastructure of all society, and the origin of all compassion, which must finally temper all civil laws in a society.

The concept of the mean shows man that the extreme in all things is at best dangerous, and at worst disastrous in its effects. It shows that harmony always lies somewhere in the middle ground; in a world where free will must be dealt with, yet cannot be eradicated; it is the only method available to man to avoid unending contention and division; the very same course we have found ourselves immersed in since the economic-government of capitalism has held the world in its grasp. But this concept is nothing more than the purified version of the same love that Christ heralded, and religion seems to have missed, by immersing it in the dogmatic pretensions of a Monarch God.

Slowly man is progressing to the point where he may be once again able to perceive the benefits of this attitude, and incorporate it into both his religious and economic institutions. By finally eradicating government from these institutions 3 and instead incorporating the love, which is the basis of his societies into his societal government, he will be able to avoid the course of unending contention he now finds unavoidable.

Societies must deal with three institutions, which they in turn entail in one way or another: religion, economics and government. These institutions are such, in that they are taken as inevitable consequences of any society.

Religion (in its broadest sense) although not at first apparent as a societal institution is indeed very much one, because society incorporates within it certain mores of the population of its citizens, which includes ideas on the accepted morality all must come to grips with in society. Religion as it has been known, and even in its broadest sense, implies a set of moral beliefs which are brought about through a higher authority. But here is the very quandary that it has brought out in Democracies, where many peoples of diverse cultures live; how is the moral tenets of so many different religious creeds reconciled in the laws of a democratic society’s government?

This is brought about largely by the making of laws that are in accordance with the general concept of love. Although Natural Law has been mentioned in the past as this same generalized set of principles, it is really only the concepts which all men intuitively feel as arising from the love they are born with, and crystallized in the Golden Rule, in the two great commandments of the bible (especially the second). Even atheists acknowledge this influence, if not acknowledging its source. It is universally felt and acknowledged by all societies since it is their basis and provides the needed cooperation and trust upon which they exist. So governments rely on making their laws in conformance with it, and therefore avoiding the clash of higher Authorities. Here we actually see that unless this love itself is taken as the basis of this higher Authority, the clash of these higher Authorities is indeed inevitable, and the resulting harmony, which is society, can never be achieved (this has become a significant problem today in the growth of fundamentalist religious sects throughout the world, and even the lingering dogmatic absolutism still engendered in the primary religious creeds of the earth).

The two other institutions of society, economics, which provides and distributes its resources for survival, and government, which provides laws to keep society and all its parts equitable, in effect, are the methods by which society must deal with the free human will. They too must both be tempered by, and built upon the love, which underlies religious unity, and this is precisely where they fail today. They fail because the twin evils of material greed and power have stopped them from realizing that unlimited anything is a chimera in this world. Both the unlimited growth (actually license) which capitalism is built on, or the unlimited regimentation of government as we have seen in the past in governments such as National Socialism in its varied forms, or Communism, brings man to the extreme, and therefore violates the dictates of the love society is founded on.

Here we see where the concept of the mean comes into play. Government, which is the primary regulatory arm of society, must regulate economics, but it cannot over regulate it to the point of destroying its freedom totally. Government’s place is found in restoring equity to commerce, and therefore creating a commerce, which is an aid to society not a burden. At the same time commerce must realize that its original function in society, was not meant to enrich the individual at the expense of society, but to equitably process society’s needs for survival.

In this essay, I have tried to show that religion in transforming the unlimited love that, for instance, the Christ heralded, into a contractual love centered on rules or dogma that must be accepted, have setup a path for unending contention to achieving world harmony. Also economics and government itself must finally come to grips with this, by establishing the underlying equity that both must show to recreate the trust that society needs to prosper, and commerce needs to properly coexist with society.




FOOTNOTES

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1 See notes following this, below.

2 The terms religious-government, economic-government both underlie the idea of religion and economics as becoming the ruling principle of society, or the individual; in other words neither should be conceived as a government (see following note).

3 Here again, I mean this in the sense of giving them a kind of authority of their own, either in the dogmas of religion, or the rules of economy, and the corresponding bureaucracy of implementation each entails.



LOVE SERIES ESSAYS

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Rostra
Rostra

Originally Published:

October 11, 2007

Revised:

June 29, 2014