Allan Kardec

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Necessity of Social Life - Life of Isolation – Vow of Silence - Family Ties

Necessity of Social Life

766. Is social life founded in nature?
“Certainly, God made human beings to live in a society. God has given human beings speech and the other faculties they need for a social life for a purpose.”

767. Does absolute isolation conflict with the law of nature?
“Yes, since human beings instinctively seek associations and all people are meant to help advance progress by helping one another.”

768. In seeking out society, do human beings only yield to a personal motivation, or is there a greater providential purpose?
“Humans must progress. They cannot do it alone because they do not possess all faculties and need contact with other humans. They become animal-like and stunted when isolated.”

No one possesses the complete range of faculties. Through social union, human beings complete one another, and mutually secure their well-being. Because they need one another, they have been created for living in society and not in isolation.

Life of Isolation – Vow of Silence

769. As a rule, we understand that social life is founded in nature as well as all preferences. Why is absolute isolation wrong if an individual finds satisfaction in it and since all predilections are found in nature?
“This satisfaction is selfish. There are those who find satisfaction in getting drunk. Do you approve of them? God is not happy with lives that are doomed to not being useful to anyone.”

770. What should we think of those who live in complete seclusion to escape negative contact with the world?
“It is twice as selfish.”

a) But if they endure such seclusion as a form of atonement, through difficult self-deprivation, is it not praiseworthy?
“The best of all atonements is to do more good than evil. They avoid one wrongdoing but fall into another since they disregard the law of love and charity.”

771. What should we think of people who renounce the world to devote themselves to helping the poor?
“They bring about their own elevation by lowering themselves voluntarily. They have double merit for placing themselves above material pleasures, and doing good by fulfilling the law of labor.”

a) And what about those who retreat from society seeking tranquility for certain kinds of labor?
“Those who retreat from society for such a reason are not selfish. They do not isolate themselves from society, since their work is for the general good.”

772. What should we think of the vow of silence prescribed by certain religious groups since ancient times?
“You should ask yourselves whether speech is found in nature, and why God has created it. God condemns the abuse, but not the use, of the faculties that have been gifted to humankind. Silence is useful because you gather your thoughts when you practice it. Your spirit has more freedom and can enter into more intimate communication with us. However, a vow of silence is absurd. Those who view these voluntary deprivations as acts of virtue are prompted by a good intention, but they make a mistake in doing this because they do not truly understand God’s laws.”

The vow of silence, as the vow of isolation, deprives human beings of the social interactions that provide the opportunities of doing good and fulfilling the law of progress.

Family Ties

773. Why is it that, in the case of animals, parents and children forget each other when the latter no longer need to be cared for?
“Animals live a physical life and not a moral life. The tenderness of the mother for her young is prompted by the instinct of self-preservation for her offspring. When these beings are able to take care of themselves, her job is done. Nature asks no more of her, and she abandons them to busy herself with the next newborns.”

774. Some individuals have inferred, based on the abandonment of young animals by their parents, that human family ties are merely a result of social customs, and not a law of nature. What should we think of this?
“Human beings have a different destiny than animals, why do you always want to make them equals? For humans, there is something beyond physical needs; they feel an instinctual need to progress. Social ties are necessary for progress and family ties strengthen social bonds. This is why family ties are a law of nature. God wants men and women to learn to love one another as brothers and sisters.” (See no. 205)

775. What would be the effect on society if family ties were relaxed?
“It would lapse into selfishness.”

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