Thursday, September 22, 2005

The image “http://www.friendlyplanet.com/images/young-masai-woman-big.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I would like to ask the question, " What constitutes a civilized society?" It seems to me that all too often in American culture we equate "civilization" with technology. I have heard other cultures dismissed as backward because of their lack of material possessions and comforts such as electricity and automobiles. But what about other factors, such as the way we care for one another? Our children? Our elders? What about issues of human rights, education, healthcare, and employment? Shouldn't a society be measured by these factors as well? What about the way that we resolve conflict and interact with other nations/cultures?

15 comments:

Constantine said...

I'm going to sound "Anglican" here:
it's both. Yes, modern conveniences via technology that promotes greater health and knowledge and progress on innumerable fronts BUT also the issues of ethics you brought up that are transcendent to humanity.

voixdange said...

Why do you consider that view to sound "Anglican" C?

H. Stallard said...

I have to disagree with constantine, we are a technolizied society and technolized does not always equal civilized. Culture, traditions, heritage, are in my opinion much more important than technology. Anyone who has watched the movie “Dances With Wolves” can’t help but ask themselves which society was really the civilized one.

http://www.mgm.com/title_title.do?title_star=DANCESWI


I think that we are too quick to brand others who are different in their beliefs, their race, their spirituality (have to be savage heathens if they don’t believe in our God), even to the ridiculous as to how they crack their hard boiled eggs (Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift). Maybe we just have to feel superior so we’re civilized and they’re savages.

Constantine said...

It seems my clarity of late leaves something to be desired. My comment in no way reflects a particular facet of Anglican theology, but was intended to be a play on their methodology of "via media" meaning "through the middle." The Anglican tradition is famous, and sometimes infamous, for wanting to have it both ways. I was basically saying in response to your original post that I think both progress and speaking to moral issues denotes civilization.

voixdange said...

No -- your clarity was fine C. I needed it explained tis all and you did an excellent job.

Interesting comment hstallard.

Dan Trabue said...

The !Kung of the Kalahari, before they were exposed to Western Civilization, used to acquire all they needed in about 20 hours of work a week.

So, I don't know about "civilized," but by using amount of free time as a measure, they were certainly a wealthy society.

voixdange said...

In soem respects I think I agree with everyone's comment. No we can't equate technology with civilization and shouldn't look down our noses at other cultures who don't have all of the modern "toys" that we have. On the other hand, technology has made positive differences in our society as well as negative ones. I look back at the way children were treated in this nation just over a century ago and why it was felt neccessary to enforce child labor laws. I also look at the way disabled people were treated. As bad as things may appear now, in many ways they were much worse just a few generations ago. So I would say, I guess that technology in and of itself is not an indication of "civilization" but rather how technology is used for the betterment of that society. And I would further add that technology in and of itself is neutral and should be measured just as with any other resource within a society. does that make sense? SO I guess in a nutshell what I am really saying is that a society shouldn't be measured by its resources, whether the are natural or man made, but rather by how responsibly they use the resources that are available to them.

olympiada said...

I can not comment on those philosophical questions but I can comment on the photograph.
It is absolutely beautiful. Where is it from, I mean which African nation and peoples does it represent?
It hurts my heart...

voixdange said...

Olympiada,
The young lady is Masai. Most Masai live in Tanzania.but I don't understand why this picture makes you sad. I think the young lady is beautiful.

madcapmum said...

I think civilization in its most basic form is civility; having social forms in place that dictate polite behaviour and ways to care for the needs of all within that society according to the resources available. And we can judge our societies, technologically advanced or not, by that standard.

voixdange said...

Yes, that is how I feel in a nutshell MCM, if you will allow me to agree with you yet again...

olympiada said...

Ange, do you the poverty that exists in Tanzania? That blog I met you on, the one that comments got taken off of because of my stupidity, my brother's blog, is from Uganda. Uganda borders on Tanzania. Go read my brother's blog to know why that photograph hurts my heart.
I thought you knew about these things Ange, this poverty. I am sure you do. Quite sure.

olympiada said...

Ange, I ommitted the word know. Go to my brothers blog. Look at his Africa resources. Look at his Tanzania page. Then come back and lets talk, all right? He needs help. His Ugandan children are hurting. And so are the Tanzanians. That goes for all of you. Here's the link:
Tanzania-The Other Side of Lake Victoria

voixdange said...

I'm am not sure about the economic status of the Masai,but I know that they measure their wealth in cows not money the way that we do. I know there is a very great need in Africa, but I am not sure that the Masai would consider themselves impoverished. I didn't mean to upset you Oly, I just wanted you to expand on why the picture made you sad.

olympiada said...

Nah, you didnt upset me. We just have VERY divergent points of view. Did you read this:
Orthodoxy Spreading Rapidly in Tanzania?
Why dont you write John and ask him what he thinks? I am sure hed be happy to hear from you. After all, hes the one living there right now.