Photograph by Rupert Britton
The Societal Compromise:
In our daily lives, we’re gripped with both the issues of society and of the self. These issues differ significantly from society-to-society and person-to-person. Nonetheless, the approach to these issues remain relatively the same in both breadth and approach.
The rules of society (i.e. a community, a religion, a tribe, etc.) are governed through some compromise of subjective philosophies, let’s call this law. The main purpose of law is to create a society which is stable and sustainable. Its secondary purpose is to cultivate a community in-line with some sort of high-level subjective philosophy. In short, society exists to survive and thrive. Political philosophies which diverge from these two purposes will ultimately crumble. The reason: society’s law was created to serve, not limit the individual.
The rules of the individual are governed by the subjection philosophies of both society and the individual. Bound by law, the individual seeks out their own subjective meaning. At first, their view is skewed through the overwhelming legal (or dogmatic) requirements of society; although, they begin to find subjective meaning through their own personal experiences. They begin to question society and its subjective rulings.
This is ultimately the clash between the subjective approaches of society and the individual. It’s both significant and unavoidable. Although, it’s important for both society and the individual to understand the importance of the other. Society must understand all individuals are different and require different subjective philosophies and lifestyles to find meaning within their own lives, and individuals must understand society also requires a different subjective philosophy, in order to create the framework for individual freedoms.
When society fails to understand the importance of the subjective philosophies of the individual, it labels him a heretic, zealot or savage and when the individual fails to understand the importance of the subjective philosophy of society, they label it anachronistic, overly-restrictive or undeveloped. Both of these understandings are incorrect, for they lack understanding of the primary need and purpose of the other.
When society succeeds in understanding the importance of the subjective philosophies of the individual, it labels them a philosopher, an entrepreneur or an enlightened-being and when the individual succeeds in understanding the importance of the subjective philosophy of society, she labels it progressive, free and advanced. Society and the individual need one another and although their subjective philosophies may be incompatible with one another’s needs; through a deep understanding of the value and importance of both society and the individual, both may come to a unifying compromise.
In short, law and dogma serve the purpose of society; whereas, freedom and authenticity serve the purpose of the individual. A perfect society develops the individual through its subjective philosophy, ultimately freeing the individual to their own interpretations and philosophies.
So, when someone comes to you and says dogmatically, “So-and-so, said such-and-such is necessary for such-and-such.” Remember to be compassionate towards their reliance upon the subjective philosophies of society; without forgetting the importance of your personal authenticity and philosophy. All things seek to undo themselves, including dogma. We’re all growing.