The sacred values are the backbone of any society. They must be recognized and honoured by all its members. For the sake of these values the individuals are expected to subordinate themselves to the rules and requirements of the society and even sacrifice their lives on the battlefield if necessary.
A nation based on common sacred values and one based on social contract are two alternative perceptions of the concept of society.
Our genetic heritance makes us social animals, which are predestined to live in the framework of a manageable group of familiar faces. Only in this way we can find meaning in life. We must necessarily live our lives surrounded by family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in order to fully develop our human emotions and intellectual potential.
In a manageable group of familiar faces we do not have much need for sacred common values or social contract. We know each other, and we know instinctively that we belong together.
But if we are to conform our self to whole nations or other large organizations, then it is another matter.
Our cultural heritage, the concept of "The Sacred", allows us to submit ourselves to big, numerous organizations, led by kings and emperors, presidents, popes and other religious leaders. Because the great leaders personifies the quest for the sacred values that we have taken to our hearts, it is possible for us emotionally to subordinate ourselves to the large organization together with thousands, yes indeed millions of persons, whom we do not know.
One cannot imagine a great nation led by a brutal dictator, who took power, because it was just what he liked. A great leader must always legitimate his power with respect to a noble purpose; let's say for the nation's welfare and future, the religion, freedom, democracy, socialism or the defence against a foreign enemy. He must choose the sacred Values carefully, because his power will not last very much longer, than the people's belief in the good cause.
Australian soldiers at Ypres - First World War.
The First World War made great demands on the citizens of the warring nations. It was no longer enough to fight for king and motherland. The nations developed new myths about themselves to motivate their citizens and soldiers. England fought for international law and the rights of small nations. Germany fought for progress. The United States fought for freedom and human rights. France fought for democracy and the values from the great French Revolution, loyally supported by the saint Jeanne d'Arc.
The recognition of common values is the sacred glue, which binds together the individual members of a people, a society, a nation, indeed of all large organizations, and transform them into one organizational entity.
The political philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke introduced the idea of social contract. To simplify their ideas a bit, all humans are basically inborn egoists, in best case indifferent.
The individuals want to cooperate in a larger organization, for example a nation, only when they thus can see their advantage; if they can realize that this organization will provide better opportunities for their selfish quest. The common self-interest is the individual's motivation to enter into a social contract.
Following Locke the individuals can only conclude such a society contract provided that they are guaranteed certain rights, which we now call "human rights". They are about freedom of speech, freedom of belief and so on.
Left: Thomas Hobbes 1588 - 1679.
Right: John Locke 1632 - 1704.
Especially John Locke's political philosophy has been the inspiration for the modern democracies.
The idea of social contract is a logical continuation of the idea that human nature is basically selfish.
In the event that the authorities of the society, into which the individuals had submitted themselves by contract, do not comply with these contractual "human rights", the citizens have the right to revolt, John Locke wrote.
Supporters of the society contract often have a tendency to talk scornful of values as "God, King and the Motherland."
Yes, actually words like "sacred" and "holy" have become derogatory terms. The logic seems to be that persons, who take such words in their mouth, must be a kind of hypocrites, who only in words deny human's natural selfishness.
But, as we shall see, they have simply replaced one set of sacred values with another. They have replaced "God, King and the Motherland" with such things as "Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance".
The idea of "the Sacred" is a deeply rooted part of our European cultural heritage, which is not so easy to get rid of.
A crusader praying.
In the Middle Ages Christianity was the only major sacred truth. For this good cause, many thousands went on crusade to the Holy Land led by the Christian Kings. For more than two hundred years Christians flocked to Palestine to battle against the heathen Muslims.
In the revolutionary France of 1791, the new civil liberties were the overwhelming holy truth. The French people were gripped with enthusiasm for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Napoleon was the man, who personalized the new values. Young and old, rich and poor had a burning desire to bring the good message to the whole world. Only the military disaster in the Russian winter of 1812 cooled their enthusiasm.
In the twentieth century, nearly a third of the peoples of the World cheered socialism. The Socialist leaders promised to fight to establish the Kingdom of Justice already here on Earth. Because the communist leaders were supposed to rule in favour of this good cause, they were supported by millions of people all over the world.
President Bush makes a speech at the White House.
Today, we consider Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights and Tolerance to be the sacred values of the Nation. For this great cause, we are willing to submit to the rules of the nation, and make the sacrifices, it demands.
"The World is longing for Freedom," the U.S. President George Bush said in a speech at the White House. This kind of things he must say to demonstrate his devotion for the sacred values of the nation and keep the favor of the voters. Just in the same way as the Christian kings in the Middle Ages had to demonstrate their deep devotion to Christianity both in word and action.
But Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights have not always been self-evident sacred truths.
Pope Benedict XVI blesses the crowd.
The vast majority of humans, who ever have had their existence here on the Earth, have been ruled by some form of monarchy.
It must be more than 90% of all the men and women, who at all times have had the privilege of a life on Earth, who have been loyal subjects of their people's sacred royal family or of an emperor elevated to the status of the Gods.
Tibet, the Vatican and Iran were and are theocracies. The religious heads are also leaders of the secular state. Dalei Lama, the Pope and the Ayatolla have a particularly close connection with their gods. That makes them holy persons who self-evidently have the right to exercise also the earthly power in a truly God's state.
The fourteenth Dalai Lama.
In the now vanished Soviet Union democratic centralism and not Democracy was cheered as the nations principle of government. The Leaders of the Nation were chosen by history, because they had a particularly good knowledge about the scientific dialectical materialism. Socialism was the sacred cause. The communist leaders had the right to power, because they were particularly vigorous in the struggle for the great cause.