Towards Greater Civilization
"A human society having an advanced stage of development in the arts and sciences and social, political, and cultural complexity."

In the first installment of this series, I opened the flood gates of thought onto the definition of civilization. The stage has now been set for getting to the root of many problems that civilization has been experiencing while trying to advance to higher levels. My self-analysis has revealed that I took some liberty with the interpretation of the definition. I plan to fix what I may have done wrong there and avoid losing my readers' trust at the very outset of this project.

The biggest complaint that I had about my interpretation of the definition was the way I took the word complexity from referring to the social structure of civilizations and applied it to the scientific and artistic advancement goals of a civilization. I support my action with a simple defense; I did not create any wrong concepts by doing this, but I did imply a rewrite of the definition. Complexity really does play a role on both sides of the coin, but it was me saying so: not The American Heritage Dictionary.

Now that I have started changing the definition of civilization, I would like to continue doing that by proposing that we replace the social, political, and cultural complexity in a civilization with social, political, and cultural diversity. Now there is a goal that we can advance toward. Complexity is no problem: It comes with the territory. Diversity, on the other hand, places the second part of our definition on equal par with the first. We must advance the sciences and the arts, and with diversity as a goal, we must advance society also.

Social diversity is not a well developed characteristic of civilization today. It is a characteristic, but it has not been well developed.  Civilization today tends to be defined by a majority ethnic group or a national superpower or both. Fortunately, one of the world's greatest superpowers, The United States of America, is a "melting pot" featuring a great deal of social diversity. If this country maintains its world leadership, as it no doubt shall, it will become the model for civilization throughout the world. In the U. S., the goal of social diversity is mixed in with a complex formula for freedom and equality for all people. That is the ideal civilization.

In the previous article, I strongly suggested that we are still in the act of advancing the sciences and the arts. When a civilization exists, sciences and arts are already in an advanced state of development. That is more than just a goal, but a completed act. To have a civilization now or in the near term, we must allow room for the state of being advanced to be a state with no terminal point. If we reach advanced, that is not the end of the line, because science and art are inherently evolutionary and revolutionary. We have not developed a definite point or criteria that we call advanced. It takes bravery to do so in a world that changes at the rate that ours is changing. As soon as we declare some science, technology, or art advanced, it is shortly thereafter declared old. It is very difficult to pin down a point in time when the first part of the definition is true.

Where are we, then, in our quest to understand just what we are implying when we speak of a civilization? With our thinking caps on we conclude that we should say "God bless America". If we can get this country to work as planned, we can have our civilization and then some.

February 1, 2003

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