790. Is civilization the progress of humankind or according to some philosophers, its decadence?
“It is incomplete progress. Humankind does not suddenly morph from infancy to maturity.”
a) Is it rational to condemn civilization?
“You should condemn those who abuse it, rather than God’s work.”
791. Will civilization be purified eventually so that the evils caused by it will disappear?
“Yes, when humankind’s moral nature is as fully developed as its intelligence. The fruit cannot appear before the flower blooms.”
792. Why does civilization not produce all the good it can produce?
“Because human beings are not yet ready or willing to obtain that good.” a) Could it also be because it generates new passions in creating new wants? “Yes, and because a spirit’s faculties do not progress at the same rate, everything takes time. You cannot expect perfect fruit from an incomplete civilization.” (See nos. 751-780)
793. What are the signs of a fully developed civilization?
“You recognize it by its moral development. You think you are advanced because you have made great discoveries and brilliant inventions and because you are better sheltered and clothed than savages. However, you will only truly have the right to call yourselves ‘civilized’ when you have eradicated vices from your society and when you live as brothers and sisters, practicing Christian charity. Until then, you are merely enlightened nations that have only passed through the first phase of civilization.”
Civilization has its degrees, like everything else. A civilization in transition is an incomplete civilization. It produces distinct evils unknown in the primitive state. Still, it constitutes a natural and necessary progress that remedies the problems it causes. As civilization is perfected it ends some of the problems it causes and these troubles vanish completely with moral progress.
The most advanced nation from any two that have reached the top of the social ladder is the one with the least amount of selfishness, greed, and pride. The one whose habits are morally better, more intellectual than material and where intelligence can develop freely. It is the one with the greatest amount of kindness, good faith, compassion and generosity. It is where prejudices of class and birth are not rooted because they are compatible with true love for one’s neighbor. Its laws do not allow privileges and are the same for every member of its society. It is the one where justice is administered with the least amount of bias and the weak always finds support against the strong. It is where human life, beliefs, opinions are respected and where there is the smallest number of poor and unhappy individuals. Finally, it is a nation where people who are willing to work are guaranteed the essentials for survival.