Enthusiasts for empire argued that Rome had a civilizing mission; that because her values and institutions were self-evidently superior to those of barbarians, she had a duty to propagate them; that only once the whole globe had been subjected to her rule could there be a universal peace.
In all great epochs of history, the existence of standards - that is, the conscious adoption of type-forms - has been the criterion of a polite, well-ordered society; for it is a commonplace that repetition of the same things for the same purpose exercises a settling and civilizing influence on men's minds.
The literary fairy tale became an acceptable social symbolic form through which conventionalized motifs, characters, and plots were selected, composed, arranged, and rearranged to comment on the civilizing process and to keep alive the possibility of miraculous change and a sense of wonderment.
It was only as part of the civilizing process that storytelling developed within the aristocratic and bourgeois homes, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through governesses and nannies, and later in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries through mothers, who told bedtime stories.
All those who prefer peace to power, and happiness to glory should thank the colonized people for their civilizing mission. By liberating themselves, they made Europeans more modest, less racist, and more human. Let us hope that the process continues and that the Americans are obliged to follow the same course. When one's own cause is unjust, defeat can be liberating.
There's no handbook for parenting. So you walk a very fine line as a parent because you are civilizing these raw things. They will tip the coffee over and finger-paint on the table. At some point, you have to say, 'We're gonna have to clean that up because you don't paint with coffee on a table.'
Since civilizing children takes the better part of two decades--some twenty years of nonstop thinking, nurturing, teaching, coaxing, rewarding, forgiving, warning, punishing, sympathizing, apologizing, reminding, and repeating, not to mention deciding what to do when--I now understand that one wrong move is invariably followed by hundreds of opportunities to be wrong again.
The lawyers' contribution to the civilizing of humanity is evidenced in the capacity of lawyers to argue furiously in the courtroom, then sit down as friends over a drink or dinner. This habit is often interpreted by the layman as a mark of their ultimate corruption. In my opinion, it is their greatest moral achievement: It is a characteristic of humane tolerance that is most desperately needed at the present time.
All black people who are even minimally conscious, black people who have ever experienced Europe's technological power crusading in the vanguard of a civilizing mission, have profound feelings of inferiority and bitterly regret the fact that the Industrial Revolution did not agreeably commence in Dahomey or Dakar. Nothing is achieved by concealing this fact.
I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations ... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.
Every colonized people-in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality-finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country's cultural standards.
Librarians are trained to be polite, patient, and helpful, no matter who stands across the reference desk.The most important thing is that we look them in the eye and take them seriously. Our work demands that we become dreamers, holding onto hope that our society can be better, that we affirm for our patrons that they are still part of this society, no matter how marginalized they have become. I was raised on the notion that the public library is a civilizing institution. And if our work calms someone's demons or teaches someone else how to treat the mentally ill with respect, then I am proud to be part of the process.
I no longer believe the conservative message that children are naturally selfish and destructive creatures who need civilizing by hierarchies or painful controls. On the contrary, I believe that hierarchy and painful controls create destructive people. And I no longer believe the liberal message that children are blank slates on which society can write anything. On the contrary, I believe a unique core self is born into every human being; the result of millennia of environment and heredity combined in an unpredictable way that could never happen before or again.
Over the last 25 years, the major popular movements that have had significant impact on the general society and have changed it, that have had a major civilizing effect - the feminist movement, the environmental movement, and so on - these are mostly developments of the '70s and '80s. Their roots might be in the activism of the '60s, but the movements themselves developed and extended later. The same is true of the changes in respect for other cultures, rights of oppressed people, and so on. These are quite significant changes. If you compare the United States now to what it was, say, 35 years ago, the changes are quite dramatic. These are changes in popular consciousness that are quite deeply embedded.
It is time we admitted, from kings and presidents on down, that there is no evidence that any of our books was authored by the Creator of the universe. The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology. To rely on such a document as the basis for our worldview-however heroic the efforts of redactors- is to repudiate two thousand years of civilizing insights that the human mind has only just begun to inscribe upon itself through secular politics and scientific culture. We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.
The child, screaming for refuge, senses how feeble a shelter the twig hut of grown-up awareness is. They claim strength, these parents, and complete sanctuary. The weeping earth itself knows how desperate is the child's need for exactly that sanctuary. How deep and sticky is the darkness of childhood, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia. Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion. Yet we are small and as terrified as we are terrifying in our ferocious appetites.
As the literary fairy tale spread in France to every age group and every social class, it began to serve different functions, depending on the writer's interests. It represented the glory and ideology of the French aristocracy. It provided a symbolic critique, with utopian connotations, of the aristocratic hierarchy, largely within the aristocracy itself and from the female viewpoint. It introduced the norms and values of the bourgeois civilizing process as more reasonable and egalitarian than the feudal code. As a divertissement for the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, the fairy tale diverted the attention of listeners/readers from the serious sociopolitical problems of the times, compensating for the deprivations that the upper classes perceived themselves to be suffering. There was also an element of self-parody, revealing the ridiculous notions in previous fairy tales and representing another aspect of court society to itself; such parodies can be seen in Jacques Cazotte's "A Thousand and One Follies" (1746), Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Queen Fantasque" (1758), and Voltaire's "The White Bull" (1774). Finally, fairy tales with clear didactic and moral lessons were approved as reading matter to serve as a subtle, more pleasurable means of initiating children into the class rituals and customs that reinforced the status quo.
Language as a Prison The Philippines did have a written language before the Spanish colonists arrived, contrary to what many of those colonists subsequently claimed. However, it was a language that some theorists believe was mainly used as a mnemonic device for epic poems. There was simply no need for a European-style written language in a decentralized land of small seaside fishing villages that were largely self-sufficient. One theory regarding language is that it is primarily a useful tool born out of a need for control. In this theory written language was needed once top-down administration of small towns and villages came into being. Once there were bosses there arose a need for written language. The rise of the great metropolises of Ur and Babylon made a common written language an absolute necessity-but it was only a tool for the administrators. Administrators and rulers needed to keep records and know names- who had rented which plot of land, how many crops did they sell, how many fish did they catch, how many children do they have, how many water buffalo? More important, how much then do they owe me? In this account of the rise of written language, naming and accounting seem to be language's primary "civilizing" function. Language and number are also handy for keeping track of the movement of heavenly bodies, crop yields, and flood cycles. Naturally, a version of local oral languages was eventually translated into symbols as well, and nonadministrative words, the words of epic oral poets, sort of went along for the ride, according to this version. What's amazing to me is that if we accept this idea, then what may have begun as an instrument of social and economic control has now been internalized by us as a mark of being civilized. As if being controlled were, by inference, seen as a good thing, and to proudly wear the badge of this agent of control-to be able to read and write-makes us better, superior, more advanced. We have turned an object of our own oppression into something we now think of as virtuous. Perfect! We accept written language as something so essential to how we live and get along in the world that we feel and recognize its presence as an exclusively positive thing, a sign of enlightenment. We've come to love the chains that bind us, that control us, for we believe that they are us (161-2).
Civilized people must, I believe, satisfy the following criteria: 1) They respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable... They do not create scenes over a hammer or a mislaid eraser; they do not make you feel they are conferring a great benefit on you when they live with you, and they don't make a scandal when they leave. (...) 2) They have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye. (...) 3) They respect other people's property, and therefore pay their debts. 4) They are not devious, and they fear lies as they fear fire. They don't tell lies even in the most trivial matters. To lie to someone is to insult them, and the liar is diminished in the eyes of the person he lies to. Civilized people don't put on airs; they behave in the street as they would at home, they don't show off to impress their juniors. (...) 5) They don't run themselves down in order to provoke the sympathy of others. They don't play on other people's heartstrings to be sighed over and cosseted... that sort of thing is just cheap striving for effects, it's vulgar, old hat and false. (...) 6) They are not vain. They don't waste time with the fake jewellery of hobnobbing with celebrities, being permitted to shake the hand of a drunken [judicial orator], the exaggerated bonhomie of the first person they meet at the Salon, being the life and soul of the bar... They regard prases like 'I am a representative of the Press!!' - the sort of thing one only hears from [very minor journalists] - as absurd. If they have done a brass farthing's work they don't pass it off as if it were 100 roubles' by swanking about with their portfolios, and they don't boast of being able to gain admission to places other people aren't allowed in (...) True talent always sits in the shade, mingles with the crowd, avoids the limelight... As Krylov said, the empty barrel makes more noise than the full one. (...) 7) If they do possess talent, they value it... They take pride in it... they know they have a responsibility to exert a civilizing influence on [others] rather than aimlessly hanging out with them. And they are fastidious in their habits. (...) 8) They work at developing their aesthetic sensibility... Civilized people don't simply obey their baser instincts... they require mens sana in corpore sano. And so on. That's what civilized people are like... Reading Pickwick and learning a speech from Faust by heart is not enough if your aim is to become a truly civilized person and not to sink below the level of your surroundings. [From a letter to Nikolay Chekhov, March 1886]
Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess - no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity - back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth - all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death. At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood - knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children - the old and young - the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe - the young man and the merry maiden - the loving mother and the laughing child - because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds - everything that walked or crawled or flew - because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power - an arbitrary mind - an enthroned God - a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world - to which all causes bow? I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken - that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change - no power that cares for man. Is there a God? I do not know. Is man immortal? I do not know. One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be. We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine - with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.
Robert G. Ingersoll