786. History shows us many nations that have relapsed into barbarism after being subjected to shocks or blows that have devastated them. Where is progress in these cases?
“When your house threatens to fall down, you tear it down to build another that is more stable and more practical. However, chaos continues in your home until the latter is built.”
“Here is another example. You are poor and live in a hut, but you become wealthy and leave the hut to live in a palace. A poor person then comes along and moves into the hut you have vacated. This individual is a winner in the move, as he or she was previously homeless. Well then, learn from this that the spirits incarnated in this declining culture are no longer those who had comprised that culture during its time of splendor. The more advanced spirits have moved on to better worlds and have progressed, while the less advanced have taken their vacated places, which they too will in turn vacate.”
787. Are there individuals who are intrinsically rebellious towards progress?
“Yes, but they are progressively becoming extinct, physically.”
a) What will be the fate of the souls that incarnate in these races?
“They will reach perfection by experiencing other lives. God does not disinherit anyone.”
b) So the most civilized human beings may have been savages and cannibals?
“You were one once, even more than once, before becoming what you are now.”
788. Nations are collective individualities that pass through the phases of infancy, maturity, and decline, just as individuals do. Does this truth, as proven by history, imply that the most advanced nations of this century will ultimately experience their decline and end, just like those of antiquity?
“Nations that only live a material life and whose greatness is based on force and territorial expansion are born, grow, and die, because the strength of a nation eventually becomes exhausted like that of an individual. Nations whose selfish laws are opposed to the progress of enlightenment and charity die because light kills darkness, and charity kills selfishness. That being said, nations and individuals also have a spiritual life, and those whose laws are in harmony with God’s eternal laws will continue to live and serve as a beacon for other nations.”
789. Will progress ultimately unite all the people of the Earth in a single nation?
“No, not into a single nation. That would be impossible because climate differences yield distinct habits and needs that make up nationalities, each of which always need laws tailored to its special habits and needs. Charity has no geographical boundaries and makes no distinction between skin colors. When God’s law is the basis of human made law everywhere and the law of charity is practiced among nations and among individuals, everyone will live in peace and happiness because no one will attempt to do wrong to a neighbor or live at the expense of others.”
The human race advances through the progress of individuals, who gradually become enlightened. When they constitute a majority, they take the lead and draw the rest forward. Persons of genius sporadically emerge and give momentum to advancement, and persons of authority, God’s instruments, carry out in the course of a few years what the race, left to its own devices, would have taken several centuries to accomplish.
The progress of nations further highlights the justice of reincarnation. Through the efforts of moral individuals, a nation advances intellectually and morally, and is ultimately happier in this world and in the next. However, during its slow journey over the course of successive centuries, thousands of individuals die every day. What is the fate of those who have fallen along the way? Does their relative inferiority deprive them of the happiness reserved for future generations? Is their happiness relative? Divine justice cannot permit such an injustice. Through experiencing many lives, the right to happiness is within the reach of all the legacy of progress does not exclude anyone. Those who have lived during barbaric times can come back in a period of civilization in the same nation or another, and can profit by the advancement of the various nations on Earth.
However, the concept of one life presents another difficulty. According to that theory, the soul is created at birth. For some individuals to be more advanced than others, God would have to create souls for them that are more advanced than the rest of creation. What would be the source of this favoritism? How can one person, who has lived no longer than another, often not even as long, merit a superior soul? That is not the only problem. A nation, over the course of a thousand years, transitions from barbarism to civilization. If all human beings lived one thousand years, we could understand that they would have the time to progress. However, many die every day, at all ages, and people are continuously being reborn on Earth. At the end of one thousand years, no trace remains of those who were living in a country one thousand years before. The nation has become civilized – but who has progressed? Are they the people who were once barbarians? But they died a long time ago. Are they the newcomers? If the soul is created at birth, these souls did not exist during the period of barbarism, and we would be required to assert that the efforts made to civilize a nation do not have the power to improve imperfect souls, but to make God create more perfect souls.
We will now compare this theory of progress with that given by the spirits. The souls that come to a civilized nation have had their infancy, like all others, but they have already lived and are advanced due to prior progress. They are attracted by the circumstances best suited to them and their present condition. The efforts to civilize a nation are not aimed at creating better quality souls in the future, but rather, at attracting souls that have already progressed, regardless of where they have previously lived. The progress each nation accomplishes provides the key to the progress of humankind as a whole. It shows that when every nation on the Earth has reached the same level of moral advancement, our planet will be a haven of good spirits, who will live in a fraternal union. All the bad spirits will be repelled and forced to seek surroundings that suit them in inferior worlds, until they are worthy of coming back into our transformed world. The commonly accepted theory of the one life, devoid of the concept of reincarnation, leads to another consequence, specifically, that the work of social betterment is only beneficial to present and future generations. Its result is null and void for past generations, who made the mistake of entering the world too soon, and who have to make do, hampered by the faults of their barbaric past. According to Spiritism, the progress accomplished by later generations is also beneficial to the generations that preceded them, who can improve for the goal of civilization when they reincarnate at a point in the future. (See no. 222)