Society is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:
1) the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.
2) a particular community of people living in a country or region, and having shared customs, laws, and organizations.
Web Pro defines it as:
An extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization.
I guess society started when humans banded together to hunt and survive. The man was the hunter/provider and the woman nurtured the children. They protected each other and became a force to be reckoned with.
Other humans in the area would soon see the value of joining up with them for food, protection and status.
I’m sure they had many discussions about why things happened to them in their daily lives. The person with the best answers probably became the mystic or the tribal leader.
So who made the customs and the rules?
Was it the elders, the heroes, the mystics or the people?
Did everyone have a collective belief because of what one person said?
Was there a vote to establish that the custom was acceptable to all or did it just evolve?
Did these customs originate from their daily lives and the things they did to survive?
Perhaps they were hunting a mammoth one day which fell into a hole and was trapped. The usual course of the hunt would involve injury or death to some of the hunters but this new circumstance allowed them to kill without risk. Would this now become the new custom of the tribe?
As man evolved by learning through trial and error, he became more advanced and society benefitted. There was more food, better shelter, a greater genetic pool and longer life expectancy.
But where did their rules spring from and why were they accepted?
Hunting was more successful and the game would either thin out or move on. The tribe would follow the game and come into conflict with other humans. They would either have to join them or be killed.
If there were other better-organised tribes in the area they would have the same choices. The vanquished had no option but to accept the conqueror’s culture or leave for the happy hunting grounds.
Again, whose culture and customs were right?
Did the vanquished accept things that were not true according to their experience for the sake of staying alive?
Did they continue with their customs in secret so that they could retain their identity?
In our lives today we accept many things that our elected leaders regard as civilised. Some laws and customs have changed to accept the broad-minded views of society but are they beneficial or just catering to the indulgent notions of the masses?
In my life, many things have changed in South Africa that were taboo before. Marriage used to be a sacred institution but this is now an optional extra.
You couldn’t get divorced unless you could prove that your partner was in adultery and that living together was a sin.
Single parenthood was severely frowned upon especially if your child was born out of wedlock.
Considering the above is society pulling your strings unawares?
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Updated: May 2022