RULES AND PRINCIPLES, AND THE HUMAN SOCIAL SYSTEM
We will start this piece by considering the word system. A system is usually the coming together of independent individuals or separate entities to function in unity to accomplish a thing or more. Most of the time what the system achieves is superior to what the individual parts would have achieved independently. It’s something like a synergy.
The universe we live in is a system. Within this system there are several galactic systems in which there are billions of star systems. Then in these star systems you have planetary systems such as our earth. These are the big natural systems as we know them. Of course as we might think, that is not the exhaustive listing of the natural systems. They are what some people will prefer to call the macrocosm but then there are at the other end the microcosm – the worlds of molecules and atoms; the big worlds and the small worlds of nature and in between the two extremes are still many more worlds.
A system is usually regarded as the interworking of different independent components or entities to accomplish a common purpose. Each component of a system can exist on its own but cannot independently accomplish what the whole can, working together. In a system, different unique and distinct entities come together, interlace and become one whole systemic body in such a way that each part of the now one body can work together in a manner that removes from the body’s operations or activities conflicts or disharmony in order to achieve the system’s common objective.
In a nutshell, for a system to be regarded as one it has to meet these criteria such as, there has to be the existence of individual entities, there has to be a congregation of these independent units, then an integration of the different parts and there has to be a goal or purposes to be accomplished as a result of the collective activities or working together of the independent parts. And there has to be a definitive set of guiding principles on which the operations are based. Because these rules or principles are strict and fundamental to the system the consequences for violation of or deviation from them can be predictable and adverse.
In a system’s operation, because of the coming together of different individual parts there tends to be frictions. So in a system’s operation there is no complete absence of conflicts or frictions. It is usually the degree of the severity of these conflicts that count. There can be a minimum level of friction tolerance in which the system can operate and still achieve its purpose. The system breaks down, goes awry or disintegrates when the conflicts level has exceeded that minimum tolerance. From our daily experiences we know that anything that runs operates based on established principles or rules. And it is the continued adherence to these principles that actually initiate and maintain the operation or activities that go on in that system.
Every system therefore exists because of these intrinsic set of rules which brought it about in the first place. And the system will continue to exist and function so long as it continues to conform to the principles of these nascent rules. Rules define why, what, how and when of a system. Rules therefore are the primary and the ultimate truth about an existent system. There cannot be any truth about or correct understanding of a system without the correct interpretation of the rules of that system. The rules or principles of a system can only be said to have been correctly interpreted after the conclusions reached have been subjected to rigorous tests in both laboratory and real life conditions and proved to actually support previously held views or new discoveries. Almost all the time such true proving of the correctness of the rules can only be achieved through some empirical scientific method rather than through some sort of speculative philosophy or religious interpretation.
Though rules are about the only force that bring together and sustain a system but you can still live or exist in a system without necessarily understanding all the rules of that system because most times what you need to do so are the basic instincts that come just by mere being and some rudimentary education acquired from interactions with the system’s environment over time. This especially is true about naturally occurring systems but almost the same parameter can be applied to a habitation in a design system. In a design system such as human sociological system the average person can carry on with little or no problem without necessarily understanding all the rules so long as he has not infringed any of the fabrics of rules that hold the society together. While that is true however, you can only begin to live and exploit successfully the inherent benefits in a system when you begin to understand the rules of that system. Many times the extent of one’s success in the given system is commensurate with the extent of his understanding and acceptance of (belief in) the rules of that system.
The later part of the afore sentence is vital to our discussion because your actions and reactions to the various stimuli as they affect your existence in the system is largely dependent on how much belief you have in and how well you understand the rules of that system. A correct interpretation of the rules is paramount but more so is the acceptance of and the conduct of your activities within the system based on what the established meaning of these rules are. And one other aspect that is equally important of note is the level of sincerity you are willing to invest in your belief. (We are using the word belief here very strictly and do not intend any form of ambiguity or abstruse application). Your level of sincerity determines the amount of energy and dedication you will be willing to invest in your belief.
In talking about the importance of having a good understanding of a system we can better illustrated it with the fact that it is estimated that the modern man has existed on earth for at least a few hundred thousands of years. The road he has travelled to get to today has been arduous and painstaking. He started off as a hunter-gatherer of food. He spent all his entire waking time searching for food and eating whatever he found. Then he began to make tools to help him accomplish more tasks better, quickly and more efficiently. So this led him to become a formidable tool-wielding hunter which enabled him to kill bigger and more nutritious games. He went from there to discover fire and its many uses, invented agriculture and developed language. With the aid of his invention of agriculture and language he could now afford the luxury of a settled existence with a more predictable source of food and abundance and time to contemplate himself and his environment or world. And with language he now had a medium of elaborate and complex expression of his thoughts and aspirations.
From this point he could think and wonder at all the phenomena he encountered around him on a daily basis. At first he ascribed to the supernatural everything or event he did not understand. He began to create gods of various kinds that are stronger and better than him as comfort and hope and over time he finally narrowed it down to one supreme God who in his opinion is capable of all things and could solve all his riddles by some super means exclusive to this almighty. But fortunately, due to the infinite capabilities of the human mind he continued to mix this faith with some doubts until he arrived at the age of science, (not reason because before then he had been exercising his reasoning capacities). So with his discovery of science he became bolder and began to challenge his long held traditions and norms. Instead of attributing every event and circumstance to the divine he tried to find honest, logical and provable answers to many of his age old questions. Gradually, as he continued to ask tougher questions and with more sincerity in accepting the answers he began to make meanings of the so many perplexities; he began to have an authentic knowledge of his home system, planet earth. With patience and much work he began to have explanation for many of the unexplained phenomena around him and as a demonstration of his correct understanding of them he began to exploit and harness these forces to his benefit. By this time he was beginning to come of age and take his destiny in his own hands instead of hoping on some powers outside of him to come in a swoop and magically solve all his problems. He discovered he could save himself and no other could do it for him. As we can see it is after man started to get a better understanding of the natural system in which he lives that he began to enjoy a fuller and more successful life on earth in the here and now. So a true knowledge of the principles of a system is the key to a successful living in any system be it natural or man-made.
At some point in man’s history, while he continued to make all the slow but remarkable progress in the knowledge of his environment he was also beginning to discover the strength that is inherent in number. He realized that the larger the number the more and bigger and sometimes the better the result of the accomplishment. So he formed community or social grouping which initially comprised of his immediate family of wife, children, brother, sister, in-laws. Over time he deliberately allowed the population of his community to grow and grow beyond those initial units. In the beginning, the community started off as a group of different individuals with similar goals partly because they had had very similar experiences as a result of similarities in the circumstances of their birth and environment. But with the swelling of this at-first-simple communal existence, space, time and other pervasive factors began to exact some subtle effects on the community such that some goals of some micro grouping members of the community began to genuinely conflict with the other micro grouping members of the same community.
It is as a result of this new natural unavoidable development which began to make complex the then simple existence, the man realized in his desire to retain many of his perceived accomplishments that resulted from the enlarged size of his community that he had to find a way to make these many diverse groupings and individual members of his community to function in harmony with less conflicts to achieve the community’s collective objectives. It is in recognition of the comparatively enormous strength in his communal creation that led him into devising the many means whereby he would continue to exploit this strength in number in spite of the many present and potential dangers inherent in it. He realized as the challenges presented themselves that he had to think and work out some efficient ways to accomplish the community’s goals with less conflicts among the various contending individuals and groups within the community. He had to find a way to encourage what he calls unity in diversity surrendering, to a large degree, the individual liberty and comfort to the common good. So he invented politics and national defense forces and internal regulators and enforcers who collectively protect the community’s heritage and ways, integrity and commonwealth.
Because man’s community continued to grow more complex and sophisticated he then had to invent a record keeping method. When he found out that he could not continue to depend reliably, all the time and especially when a long span of time is involved, on his fluid memory recollections to pass on important information as it affected the community, to coming generations with less corruption of facts he devised a way to record his observations, experiences and wishes in a more dependable rigid format. In this way he advanced a little further away from his brute cousins, the other animals because he would not have to continue repeating himself or the steps he had already taken to get to his accomplished goals or tasks. The next generation would not have to repeat the mistakes of the past generations. So with the devise of record keeping he could set forth in a more reliable written format his wishes or rules and codes which he had collected together for the harmonious functioning of the individual parts of the community or society. With this method, the information he is passing on is rendered less unambiguous and so gave room to little or no doubts as to the meanings and intentions of these rules. One big advantage of written rules to man’s society is that the rules can be reliably interpreted even by those who were not party to the formulation and at different times other than the time when it was first written. This is especially true when the interpreters are sincere and willing to be faithful and trustworthy interpreters. (Most times properly written rules get misinterpreted only because the interpreters are just being mischievous or careless). By this method of record keeping man became able to construct a social system that has the capacity to last almost indefinitely so long as he can find honest interpreters and managers or administrators of the wishes or rules of his society.
One other aspect of a system that we want to consider is the fact that for rules to be rules they have to be “hard and fast” that is clear, definite and consistent. It is only in this way that a system’s rules can be dependable and people can place their lives and destiny on them. In natural systems there are usually consequences when rules or laws establishing them are violated. So likewise, for rules to be considered as such in any man-made system or society there must be sanctions or punishment when violated.
From this reasoning we can see that so long as man remained preoccupied with just his basic survival needs his rate of progress continued at a very slow pace indeed. He spent the bulk part of all the time he has had on earth crawling so to say until he invented language and agriculture which enabled him to produce surplus food that freed his time to think and reflect on himself and his world. It was then he could have time to organize armies of hunters, artist, musicians, and other social activities and institutions solely dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and entertainment.
And once man developed the ability to write down the rules and codes of his society, he became able to remove doubts as to the meanings and intentions of his society. Through this means he established some sort of permanence and continuity and order in his society. When we put in perspective what the modern man has accomplished over the many millennia of his existence on earth, the pace of his progress accelerated very rapidly soon after he could record his thoughts, findings and activities to pass on to coming generations. And it is one thing to pass on the results of past findings and experiences but the most important thing is to devise a way of ensuring that the next generation will study and implement every beneficial part of the recommendations of the past and present generations. Today’s society is supposed to be the sum total of the past generations plus whatever new experiences and discoveries are being made. That is the way through which a society can advance, move away from a mere bestial existence, away from being a congregation of some talking brutes, to a civil society. Any society that will not heed the lessons of past and present generations will be perpetually condemned to remain at the very base of the rung of the animal evolutionary ladder.
Just as it is in a natural system, for any human social system to function properly and be able to accomplish its objectives there must be a harmonious interworking of the fundamental independent elements of that system. When there are too many confusion and contradictions it becomes detrimental to the smooth running of the society and even its very existence will be in jeopardy. With too many conflicting and errant components the society breaks down and becomes a non-system.
The next question we will need to answer is the why for the human social system. In nature the purposes for the existence of most systems is very often a matter of controversy. There is hardly any consensus as to why most things exist in nature. The solar system is said to be about 7.5 billion miles (12 billion kilometers) across and some people might ask if this whole thing exists just for the pleasure of man because he is about the only sentient being in it? That conclusion is of course very doubtful. But on the contrary, nobody can have any such doubt as to the purpose of the human social system. The human social system exists because of and should be for the benefit of the human inhabitants. It is established primarily to cater for the needs of the human components of the system. Therefore though no one individual entity is more important or the wish of one individual more important than that of the whole community but no single rule of a society should be devised that hurts the reasonable legitimate needs of the individual members. All rules and activities of a society should be so constructed that it is clearly shown to be fair to all and for the mutual benefit of every segment of the society. For this to be, the society must have very clearly defined goals or purposes and clearly communicate same to the members of the society. Every form of ambiguity in the mind of the citizens as to the aims of the society must be avoided. A true society must endeavor to clearly communicate its purpose which is its set of values, standards and ideals to the citizens. When these reasons for a society’s being are neglected or lost or compromised then it must descend into the abyss and perish because there will be no just reason for its existence.
We have seen the simplicity of the origin of the human social system and tried to draw a parallel line to see how it compares with the natural systems. We have also seen the important roles rules or laws play in establishing these gigantic natural systems and keep them running for billions of years. So we cannot possibly over emphasis the fact that the continuous adherence to rules is necessary if any system must continue. We have also seen that without rules there will be no systems in the first place. And exactly as it is in the natural system so it is in the human social system. Rules in a system be it natural or otherwise produce order, predictability and symmetry, even beauty. Therefore for every human society to function as a system it must hold sacred the laws of that society.
The foundations and building blocks of every social relationship must be based on the principles of truth, honesty, integrity and sincerity and the willingness of all parties to it to conduct their affairs by these principles and be seen to do so.
It is my belief that about all problems in human society can be solved. The things that stand between a problem and its solution are insincerity, dishonesty, and the lack of moral strength to abide by the values and standards and ideals of the society on the part of those who have stakes in it. The average person has been endowed with the ability to know what is right. The only thing that is often lacking is the courage to do the right thing when faced with the choice of right and wrong. It is in my opinion that almost every problem in human social system can be solved by the study, education, understanding and dedication to the doing of the rules and regulations of the society. We must honestly find means to practically use the result of the studies. What we are saying in other words is that a society’s problems can be legislated away, literally. To get to the root of a society’s problem we have to look at their laws. If a society can devise good sets of laws then they can have a good society if they can find good interpreters and good enforcers of the rules. Someone might argue that while you can legislate rules that can solve social vices how about natural disasters, environmental issues and diseases? As convincing as that might sound but the truth is that with education and study and the understanding of the environment and if laws are made with the acquired knowledge, solutions to these problems can be proffered and implemented through legislations. With a better understanding of diseases rules can be devised that regulate and change people’s behavior to prevent the occurrence and the cure of diseases. Natural disasters such as earth quakes and hurricanes can be predicted and laws promulgated to help the society to avoid the devastating effects of these natural occurrences.
From our discussion so far, we can see that the human social system and political institution have come a long way in the scale of human development. Naturally it would be expected that by now man would have been able to have a mastery of those institutions and be able to operate them more efficiently to his benefit than he is currently doing. This unfortunate situation of man’s inability to run efficiently institutions of his own creation seems to be so endemic and prevalent among the people within the south of the Sahara in Africa. The situation is no doubt at a crisis point and calls for an urgent comprehensive action. What we are recommending in this piece is that the leaders in this region must make up their minds to solve the many problems. Very drastic measures are required. Like we saw in the illustration we made about the modern man’s journey to the present time, he began to succeed only after he came to the realization that his redemption lies in none other but himself and that he must take his destiny in his own hands.
We are recommending that the leaders in this region of the world must take the people’s destiny in their hands and in honesty and sincerity work out the people’s salvation. Redemption cannot come from outside, it has to come from within. It does not take much more than a willingness to bring it on. But more important than that is the courage to be honest and sincere in the conduct of the people’s matters. We firmly believe that the study and understanding of the origins of these societies will provide answers to the myriad of problems facing this region today. There is the need to faithfully and honestly construct systems that are tailored around the values of the people. Almost any system can work anywhere provided the operators can be faithful and honest in their conducts.
Leadership of the people must be seen as a sacred calling of the highest order. No other vocation can be higher than that. The job is not for all comers nor is it for the faint in heart. There has to be a rediscovery of the people’s values and standards and a rededication to the pursuit to achieve and maintain these very reasons for the people’s being. These are the things that make the people a people. They are the fundamental elements on which our societies were founded. The social system – the people’s standards and values as we have seen predates the political system. What that means is that the political system was devised to service the people’s way of life. Therefore whatever political institution we have to build must take into cognizance of that fact. We cannot build a political system that pretends that the people’s values and cultures do not exist or are unimportant and expect such to stand. When that is done it only amounts to handling the people’s destiny with levity. Or glibly putting together a badly drawn up truce and save for a future date disorder and hostilities or frictions that will bring down the dishonest edifice. When we refuse to be honest today in our dealings we are bound to be faced with a hydra-headed monster we would have created as a result tomorrow.