“Civilisation begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos” or so said Will Durrant American historian and philosopher. But what do you see when you hear the term civilisation? Ancient Greece, a modern European city, your creation on Forge of Empires? The oxford dictionary defines civilisation as “an advanced stage or system of human social development”. The next question is of course; what does advanced refer to? Does there have to be the use of tools or technology, or does man need to have risen above his base nature – be intellectually separated from his physical needs and desires. Or does it just refer to built structures and the formation of cities and laws to govern operations within it?
Is order established and chaos banished via the rule of law, through education and the cultivation of morals and ethical behaviour or through fear and power? Anaximander, a pre-socratic philosopher pondered that there were many forces in the world that were often in opposition and balance/order could only be maintained while no one force dominated. Philosophers went on to argue over what these forces might be and how we could observe and measure them to establish truths and laws. This could be seen as an advancement in our knowledge but somehow the importance of balance was lost along the way in pursuit of the segments.
While to civilise means to lead people to an advanced state, to be civil refers to an ordinary citizen or to be polite and courteous. Is a civilised state more simply one where people behave well towards each other? Where we recognise our place within society and our responsibilities relevant to it? Is a genuine civilised society one that is concerned with balance and advancements in technology, laws, education and civic structures and driven by this goal?