By Richard Kieninger


Civilization is created by man. It is not an existing pattern which man may fall into and it is not part of human nature. Every group of people since the dawn of time has structured their civilization in a different way. These days, civilization is apparently measured solely by its manifestations (Webster: “use of a written language, advances in the arts and sciences, government, etc...”). The definition of civilization has become so closely associated with technology that advances are marked by inventions; e.g., the printing press, cotton gin, barbed wire, atom bomb, etc. Civilization has become regarded as a race for more and better inventions. Nothing could be farther from the truth.


Civilization is, first and foremost, about people—man’s perception of himself. Charles Darwin might have changed his wording had he realized the impact that “survival of the fittest” would have on man’s self-image. He was, of course, referring primarily to non-human animal life. However, the psychological repercussions of his theory have crept into every aspect of man’s existence, as exhibited by such phrases the “concrete jungle” and “dog-eat-dog world.” Darwin unwittingly gave scientific license to man’s baser instincts. Man’s image of himself as a survivor has subtly led him to the money/power politics of today. It used to be that if you wanted to force someone to your way of thinking you would punch him in the nose—today you “hit him in the pocketbook.” Man has not become more civilized, merely more sophisticated in his methods of survival. If civilization is to progress man must change his self-image.


If man sees himself as the being who must take on the responsibility of nurturing his farm/town/nation/planet, then he will structure his civilization for the greatest common good of all people involved. Since civilization is a reflection of man’s perception of himself, the ultimate responsibility for changing civilization rests with the individual. A group of individuals having the same goals and cooperating in their efforts can transform civilization. Under this philosophy, civilization offers only beneficial possibilities.


An individual’s perception of the universe and of the world around him is based in part on impressions from childhood and on values of society transmitted through the home. As these external influences on one’s actions are analyzed, some are recognized as being harmful and must be discarded. An increased awareness develops that allows the individual to react more rationally and appropriately to life situations. His perceptions of the universe and the world change accordingly.


The security that results from having a feeling of control over one’s environment permits ease in transactions between people because one no longer feels threatened by weaknesses or strengths in others. When this level of awareness and security is approached, cooperation replaces competition and extends throughout the society to be reflected in its culture.


Cooperation becomes inevitable among people whose goal is to be citizens of a new nation. People who work together are able to put idealism into practice.