Society is concerned with the visible world such as it manifests itself in the time between birth and death, the world that can be seen, heard, felt, touched, tasted. Society has given itself rules and regulations, a ‘social code’, proper laws and so-called social conventions, which enable it to function properly. Laws must be obeyed and are enforced. Social conventions are less stringent and the consequences of breaking them less severe, although they can be considerable. It is therefore advizable to meet the most important requirement : not to be found out. Anybody who isn’t found out, will be allowed to live in peace, Society being concerned with what it can see. Anything it can’t see is non-existent and consequently of no importance. It bears a certain similarity with Science in this respect, Science being, of course, a product of Society.
A fairly large proportion of the members of Society feel a need to believe in something that goes beyond their personal existence. In order to satisfy these members and at the same time contain this potentially threatening inclination, Society offers religion as a neatly and orderly devized outlet, fully integrated into Society’s law and order. Any commonly accepted ideology could, of course, take the place of religion, the principle being the same.
Life in Society is governed by the ‘social code’, a set of rules accepted by most members. It determines the morality of man’s behaviour, good, if in agreement, bad, if in disagreement with it. Different Societies have different social codes and consequently different conceptions of morality.
Morality is relative. Whoever is in power in a given Society, religious, political and other leaders, can shape the social code to suit his purposes. The social code is generally accepted because it makes life easier. Especially it makes members of Society watch one another. Any trespassing is denounced as soon as discovered. The social code is like a corset supporting the individual who knows exactly how far he/she can go, what is legitimate, what just about acceptable and what not. This is reassuring for the individual because he/she knows when they can have a clear conscience and when not. The individual is taught to live within the system. He/She learns what is right and what is wrong. There is no need for anyone to worry, as long as the rules are observed. The individual is not encouraged to question himself. This is not necessary, because Society provides for everybody. It offers the right solution for every conceivable problem. The individual is held to acknowledge this and stay within well-defined limits. The individual must not conceive the idea that he/she can be independent of Society. This would question the very existence of Society who is interested in making the individual rely on it, thus keeping him/her under control.
Who controls ? With what purpose ? The individual must be comfortably embedded in Society, so as to forget other quests. Which quests ?
An example :
I want to do something. I take care not to be found out. I find I can’t do what I want to do. I hit a resistance built into me. I can only go so far, no further.
Somebody else has the same experience. We can’t do what we want to do. It seems we must be happy with less. We try again and hit the same obstacle. We give up, thinking maybe the grapes are sour. Perhaps they are ! Perhaps we are spared having sour grapes ? We shall never know. Until we find something better. What is there that is better ?
This is precisely the question Society does not want us to ask, because it can’t provide the answer. The answer is beyond it.
Society looks at it this way : What we wanted to do was against the social conventions. We gave up, because we were going to break the rules. We recognized that breaking the rules carried consequences. We touched the limits of Society, were frightened and returned back into the fold. Like cattle touching an electric fence. We behaved like responsible members of Society and in recognition of this we may continue to live in peace, with a clear conscience. As long as we stay within the limits.
No need to tell Society that we are not happy with that. No need to broadcast that we are in quest of something better. Anything that’s worth having is difficult to find …