Young People Understand the Concept of Social Contract.

When a child enters public school in the U. S. today, and his parents belong to a church which discriminates against gays and women and is against abortion, that child immediately is exposed to competiting ideas.  Inclusiveness and anti bullying are taught.

Later, the child will encounter another idea that competes with his/her church.  The child’s class or a club may engage in community volunteer work, helping at a shelter of raking leaves for the elderly.  This is an idea called a social contract.

The concept of a social contract, articulated since the mid 1800′s, has become common to the public.  I’ll define social contract as an implied agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the community as a whole.

In a previous generation, it was assumed taking care of the less fortunate was the job of the church, government, family or neighbor.  This was different than what is happening now.

Today I saw post was about a young man, about 18,  explaining why he is not religious.  He sees the less fortunate as a part of society that needs  help until it, in turn, helps others.  This is the mutual benefit of the social contract.

He sees his life as dedicated to carrying out this social contract.  Whatever time and money he has will be devoted to this.  What he wrote struck me as a product of our current educational training and contemporary social values.

He sees religion as having no role the ideals of the social contract.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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46 Responses to Young People Understand the Concept of Social Contract.

  1. entech says:

    One of the more arrogant claims of organised religion is that this sought of thing cannot happen without them.
    They claim that the religious do more voluntary “good” works than the non religious, this may be true I don’t have access to all the statistics. It is not a necessary correlation though that because you are religious you are more likely to do good things.

    Conversely one of the bad arguments against is that the religious only do it because of the expectation of future reward or punishment. True in many cases but, again, there is not a necessary correlation.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Reward and punishment is one reason for good works, but another more insidious reason for doing good works is to increase the numbers in the fold. Soup kitchens run by religious groups often demand attendance at church services before they’ll give a person anything to eat. How very Christian of them.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    Any decent society cares for those that through age or infirmity cannot do for themselves. God created two institutions to care for human need. They are the family (nuclear and extended) and the local church (another application of family). Beyond that there are private charities, friends and neighbors. All voluntary associations.

    Nothing will ever take the place of family and church. Not “social contracts”, whatever they are, and certainly not government which confiscates wealth by the $trillions and squanders on wars, debt service, and social programs that only create welfare dependence. We have now turned our healthcare over to the federal government and big business. We are about to watch the system implode.

    • entech says:

      Interesting point of view Michael. I have spent my entire working life paying taxes and contributing to the community. In retirement I am well looked after by the same community.
      This to me is the meaning of social contract.
      Bit of a stretch to say God created the local church though, there are so many different varieties, did he create Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists and Mormons, probably not he was pretty big on telling Moses et.al. that they were to slaughter down the the last man,woman, child and family pet all those that didn’t worship him properly.
      Nuclear family, got away to good start on family values with Abraham fornicating with the family slave, almost killing one son and sending the other off into the desert, with his mother presumably to die.

      You need to take it all not just the bits that make you feel good.

      • Michael Ross says:

        You see human failure and blame God. That is nothing new with you. Now you blame families. You must have had a sad childhood.

        • Formerly Fargo Bob says:

          The Old Testament is full of atrocities committed or commanded by God. You let a genocidal deity off the hook, but run down humans at every opportunity. You denigrate your fellow humans in order to elevate your god. You hate government, which is essentially nothing more than your fellow humans coming together to provide for the welfare of the community. And you wonder why so many of us reject your anti-human philosophy and religion.

          • Michael Ross says:

            “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

            ~George Washington

          • Formerly Fargo Bob says:

            Michael, you can cherry-pick the Founding Fathers the way you do your Bible, but it’s an unconvincing tactic. Try coming up with your own thoughts to justify your anti-human beliefs.

          • Jeffrey Eide says:

            Thank you Mr. Bob,
            Mr. Ross is simply projecting the innate fear and guilt he grew up with. I hope he can grow via discussions with his cohorts in society!

          • Michael Ross says:

            FFB – Cherry pick? That is foundational to our constitutional republic. Mistrust of empires, monarchies, centralized bureaucracies of any kind. Taking dependence away from families and the local community and putting it on politicians in Washington is only a means of control.

        • Avatar of realist realist says:

          Odd you reflect on Entech’s childhood, when your own fixation on the systematic emasculation of men makes me wonder what happened to you as a youngster, Michael. Your entry at the end of the thread about women’s roles was, well, scary.

      • entech says:

        Michael 2:21. Very happy childhood thank you very much, good parents, nice Church of England School, long summer holidays.

        As too the rest, I don’t blame anyone really just thinking of role models.
        “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” So anything bad must surely be simply keepoing to the image. The creator was also less than consistent in his apparent love, rather off putting to have all your antecedents drowned, except for one rather strange family. Which brings us to family, in what way do I blame family? You say that is what we need and I simply gave an example that could not be thought of as a good role model, a good image. Noah wasn’t too good either.

        I agree human failure is at the base of many problems, but suggesting that there was a creator who created everything yet was such a bad example, well – don’t blame me for your deities failures.

        • Jeffrey Eide says:

          I miss these engagements, entech,and wish your wisdom could be imposed on the local environ. Peace be with thee, and happy Halloween.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          entech 4:45 “..don’t blame me for your deity’s failures.”

          That highlights the peculiar direction taken by many folks of faith on our site. Terrible things happen, it’s free will. Good things happen, it’s done by God.

          God drown nearly all the innocent babies of the world in Noah’s flood. This was not “man’s sinful nature” nor “man’s free will”. It was murder. It was done by God.

          (I wonder who God asks forgiveness from–oh, of course. From himself.)

          • entech says:

            According to Marcion he would need to ask forgiveness from the one above him. Turtles all the way down deities all the way up.

          • entech says:

            A great corollary to this business of who is to blame for what. In a follow up to a similar theme where some was saying that you can’t blame the composer if the musicians are mediocre. The response (letters to the editor, my local paper) pointed out that in this case the composer selects the musicians and conducts himself, who else would you blame.
            It is like have a very substandard building where the architect used bad from the start workmen, trained by him, supervised the selection of materials and the operations.

            Not part of this topic, as such, but very closely related to the creationists that started this particular thread, you have to think that the intelligent design argument is the most counterproductive thing you could come up with, almost as difficult to reconcile as a genocidal but kind and loving.

        • Michael Ross says:

          I had a good upbringing, good parents, stable home and all that but still turned out all messed up. If you were believers I’d ask for your prayers.

  3. entech says:

    Jeffrey, nice to see back, but it sounds temporary?
    Good to see you appear to have forgiven my little forays into foolishness with some of the more outlandish commentators.

  4. Catholic Dad says:

    Jon,

    I am not sure how a social contract competes with religon. Does one need religon to do good, of course not. No different than, one who is religous can do bad. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is why do good. The reason I volunteer my time, talent, and treasure, is to better understand myself, my fellow man, and find the face of God in each person.

    Realist 4:10 – often demand attendance at church services before they’ll give a person anything to eat –

    I have never witnessed that in my life in the Catholic church.

    Happy all Saints day

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      C. Dad 6:27 I apologize your posts are delay in showing up. For some reason yours are treated as a new poster here each time and I have to click on approve. Hopefully, they will go up immediately soon.

      As to whether the social contract competes with religion, I’m not saying it does for you. I was trying to explain it might for a younger generation–that at least some young people may find their own brand of idealism whereas an older generation found it in religion.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        “wheras an older generation found it in religion”. Not so much as you imply. In fact, I think it could be said that the ‘me generation” along with the modern post reformed churchy groups, have a more intense self gratification factor than the “older generation” ever had. Case in point: My mother was born in the very early 1900″s Many miles South West of Bismarck, ND. Shortly after she was born, her mother died from “consumption”, (TB). Her father, along with older siblings living in nothing much more than a marginal chicken coop had no way of taking care of her. There were neighbors a couple miles away, that asked to take her in, and raise her. (They couldn’t be called overly prosperous either.) They did until she grew up. She associated with her father and brothers, in school, but was raised as a daughter of the neighbors. I think it truthful to call them “an older generation”. Years later, I asked her foster father why they did that for her. All he said was, “There was a need, and we could do nothing less”. There was no paper work, or social services involved. They simply raised and loved her as they did their own two girls. I personally knew these people, and they didn’t do it for rewards, here or in eternity. They simply saw a need. Later I found that this was not uncommon back then in that “older generation”. Today I see many people volunteer simply they see a need. Food shelf, sitting with the sick, driving people for chemo therapy, taking food/ hot dishes etc. to distressed people quietly with no fanfare. They simply did/do these things because they saw/see a need. In fact, many of these prefer it not be known they do this, as it may embarrass the recipients. Those Older generations never heard of a social contract. They didn’t need to, they wanted to. I think it would be a fair observation that our current social services sometimes stifle this activity, in spite of it’s well intended presence.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 10:54 Thank you for the nice story about your mother and the neighbors who raised her.

          You may have not noticed I referred to this kind of benevolence when I wrote that in an earlier generation, the less fortunate were taken on by, “church, government, family or a neighbor.” I know of several cases in that generation and a while later where children lived with people like friends, neighbors and relatives.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          I could add: When my mom was a teenager, the drought and depression hit, and her foster parents lost the ranch, and had an auction sale. They sold her dog that she loved so much for .75 cents. Got in the car and drove away to eastern ND. Virtually penniless Even a good year out there would have been a failure in the Red River Valley. I’m sure my mom was a burden for them, but they still saw the need.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            Your mother was lucky that she wasn’t exploited. Some families looked to board children from dirt poor homes and then worked them like dogs. This happened quite a bit so looking back on it with the idea that these arrangements were as ideal as it was for your mother is not being realistic.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Realist: It was real. You don’t throw out the real with the dirt. You sound like you are dismissing the reality of her fortunate experience. There are many people who do the right things because they see a need, not for what it gets them, or the publicity. I knew these people personally. You didn’t.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Realist: These people who raised my mother were kind, gentle, and soft spoken. All traits I don’t see reflected in any of your posts.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            Take the chip off your shoulder, Wanna. I’m saying your mom was lucky. Many were not.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            No chip on my shoulder. You are the one being contradictory. In fact, with the personality you project, I would be hesitant to place a child with you for care.
            You miss my point completely related to the “social contract”.

          • Henry says:

            Wanna:“Even a good year out there would have been a failure in the Red River Valley”

            Good personal story.
            SW of Bismarck is a difficult area to farm on a consistent long term basis. The dryspells are long lasting when they occur. When it rains, it is a bonanza. The minimum till drills have helped instead of the traditional plow and pony drill.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Haven’t been out there for over 30 yr. Got my first pair of genuine Levi’s in Flasher. The same county, (Grant) as Leith, where the white supremesists from far away would like to take over the town, and make it an enclave of “whites only”, and like minded people. Which the locals are resisting the best they can.

          • Henry says:

            I still get out there a few times a year. I have inlaws that farm out there. It is also a good stopping point for destinations of Denver or the Black Hills.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I was born in the south west… Hettinger, ND. Was a growing community a long time ago. now, it’s mostly an elderly community in decline. That’s awesome Wanna, with what happened. Now adays, if a story were told like that, the question would be, did the family that took her in molest her… There’s that sense of mistrust of decency. That people are just out to corrupt kids and take advantage of them. It’s sad that that is the case. Although I don’t believe overall we’re in a state of moral decline, I do believe some peoples respect of boundaries around what’s acceptable and what is not, has declined.

      • Catholic Dad says:

        Jon,

        No worries on the delay. I took “the child will encounter another idea that competes with his/her church.” for me and my children. I guess we are both showing our patience.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Well, perhaps the Catholics are more charitable. I have seen this first hand. First the sermon, then the singing, then the food. I guess you’re just lucky to be a catholic. :)

  5. Jeffrey Eide says:

    Yeah, I am overwhelmed with organizing awareness campaigns and have no time anymore for participating on blogs. Keep fighting for a rational world!

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