An Introduction to Our Ideas
At ABetterSociety.Info we strive to study world society historically and in the present, looking at it from a perspective different than most. We think our different approach will identify basic sources of social challenges and effective approaches for overcoming them.
We seek answers to many questions including:
Do Jesus’ often overlooked words in John 3:17 and Matthew 28:18-20 provide insight into what should be done to improve world society?
Is it possible to conduct a meaningful study of society from a more global point of view, seeking to identify common patterns among many societies?
Is it possible to identify relationships between past social structures and recent ones?
Is it possible to discover meaningful insight into society by studying three types of social structures: hunter-gatherers, class-based, and equitably-based?
Is it possible that more recent historic events can be explained based on understandings of common cultural patterns seen in many societies?
For example, is it possible to understand Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and the extermination of millions based on cultural patterns seen in hunter-gatherer societies?
Is it possible to relate common cultural patterns seen among historic groups to events in the world today, for example the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the brutality of ISIS?
At ABetterSociety.Info we study society by identifying common patterns that exist in many different societies, seeking to understand what forces cause these patterns to exist. This is different from the common anthropological approach of identifying difference among societies. We think by identifying common patterns and the reasons that they exist it is possible to develop improved approaches to enhance society.
Do Jesus’ words in John 3:17 and Matthew 28:18-20 provide insight into what should be done to improved world society?
How do patterns in the society that Jesus lived in differ from a society he envisioned in His teachings?
Sections of this article were originally published in the Suffolk News-Herald in Suffolk, Virginia, in November of 2016.
Jesus as a Revolutionary
Have you thought of Jesus as a revolutionary? His words and actions certainly do not reflect that of a typical freedom fighter. But maybe we might think about the idea anyway.
We usually think of a revolutionary as a person that participates in or advocates a revolution that has major, sudden impact on society particularly in regard to a political, economic system. What Jesus said and did certainly hasn’t brought about sudden change over the last 2000 years. But there have been revolutions in history that have resulted in major changes in government, culture, and economy over a long period of time. That being a possibility, what kind of revolution might be involved in His teachings?
Consider John 3: 17. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” To me these words indicate several things. Foremost, they indicate serious problems existed in Jesus’ time that God might condemn. But God did not do so, he sent His Son to save the world from whatever negative conditions that existed. What were the conditions in the world at that time?
Although many hunter-gatherer societies still existed, the society Jesus was born into was class-based. In such a society, then and now, a small percentage of the people, maybe less than ten percent, controlled the government and economy for their benefit. The rest of the people were kept poor, uneducated, and powerless. Most of them were slaves that lived a life of terror, fearing whippings, murder, and other types of abuse.
But other factors were (and still are) typical of such a society. Political power and wealth were reserved for people of the same religion and race or ethnicity. Within the society certain roles played by people made them social outcasts such as tax collectors and prostitutes. People of other religions, race or ethnicity were looked upon as hateful, inferior humans such as the Samaritans. In the Old Testament, a wrathful God took vengeance upon those that went astray. Jesus preached love, tolerance, and forgiveness. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissioned His followers to, “Go, ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
Considering that class-based societies had existed for thousands of years before Jesus’ time His teachings envision a very different society. That sounds revolutionary to us.
Looking upon Jesus’ ministry from this point of view, His teachings should lead the way for today’s Christians in striving to improve society in all nations, not just our own. In America, we have a long way to go, but at least we are trying to find our way toward Jesus’ goal while most nations continue to cling to being class-based. In class-based societies a few wealthy, powerful individuals control the economy and government for their benefit. In some nations, these powerful people make up an aristocracy and in others they are an oligarchy. They keep most people poor, uneducated, and powerless. It is no wonder that so many people want to come here to live, considering their lives in other nations are dominated by a few wealthy, powerful people.
At ABetterSociety.Info we study and discuss three basic patterns of society: hunter-gatherer, class based, and equitably-based. In discussing these patterns, we identify the root sources of the many social challenges we attempt to overcome today.
We propose that by determining the root causes of our current challenges we can identify better approaches to addressing them that are different from those commonly applied today.
Joseph L. Bass, EdD, represents ABetterSociety.Info, Inc., a non-profit focused on improving world society. Our approach is to help people consider approaches for overcoming social problems different from conventional thinking.
He is available to provide talks and participate in dialogues to discuss a variety of topics. Some include: 1. Understanding different types of social structures and their influence on today’s world; 2. The clash of social structures and the American Civil War, Jim Crow Era, and the Civil Rights Movement; 3. Refocusing efforts to overcome poverty; 4. Frederick Douglass, respect, and dependency.
© ABetterSociety.Info, Inc. 2016