Intro to Parvulism

Hey, my name’s Matt, and I am “a child of the twentieth century.”  I’ve been writing for years in spiral notebooks.  But a peace of mind and sense of purpose, obtained from the philosophy that I’ve developed through my young life’s trials and adventures, has compelled me to share these thoughts with the world.

Evolution is the guiding force behind all life on Earth, and it is still occurring.  Dinosaurs ruled the planet for over 150 million years.  Humans have ruled it for less than a quarter of 1 million, from the grasslands of Africa to the paintings at Lascaux to the International Space Station.  To put our evolution in terms of a football game, we have just seen the opening kickoff.  There is no telling where our species will go from here.  I am hopeful that we can shed our more primitive instincts and embrace our common destiny.  This blog was created with the lofty goal of contributing to the advancement of humanity – an idea that I call parvulism (after the Latin for “small child,” since the focus is always on the next generation), which combines certain tenets of secular humanism, world federalism, and social liberalism.

Parvulism offers answers to those deepest metaphysical puzzles (where did we come from? why are we here?) that are every bit as satisfying as those offered by conventional religion, yet also compatible with our current scientific knowledge of ourselves and the universe.  Most imperative is the mentality of open-mindedness.  We must confidently trust our observations while nevertheless allowing any and all beliefs, no matter how deeply embedded, to be fearlessly discarded upon the discovery of new evidence that discredits them.

I reject the common notion that people cannot have morality without spirituality.  The teachings of the world’s mainstream religions are wretchedly poor attempts at encapsulating a legitimate set of morals.  They all encourage actions which I believe to be immoral and prohibit actions that are not immoral, with no consistent overriding basis for their judgments.  I follow a very simple guideline which has not failed me yet – an act that causes happiness is good, an act that causes suffering is bad.  Obviously many acts cause both happiness and suffering, and in such cases it is necessary to calculate (to the best of one’s ability) which net result will be larger among all sentient beings affected by the act.  This is similar to Utilitarianism.  It is my hope that humans can adopt some similar code of morality that is based on logic, rather than dogma.

Ancient people lived in small groups or extended families, then in tribes, city-states, nations and empires.  The next logical step is a world-wide government, ensuring equal representation for all and minimizing the violence caused by xenophobia.  This is why I support the growing number of international laws and organizations, and the mutual interdependence of countries in the global economy (although I am concerned about the oppression that unregulated capitalism inevitably brings).  Any step toward a single, unified human society should be applauded.  We should not forget our diverse cultural traditions, but should keep them only for their historical value.

I believe that the meaning of life is the same now as it was when our ancestors harnessed the power of fire – to continue to evolve.  This includes the parent, teacher, counselor, coach, friend, or role model who helps children to be literate, inquisitive, fully conscious of their tiny but important place in the cosmos.  It includes engineers who (like a chimpanzee sharpening a stick) shape the environment to facilitate our journey, mindful of the need for conservation and sustainability… all scientists, inventors, artists and dreamers who develop new ways of glimpsing at some universal truth.  If I can make even the slightest contribution toward this goal, I will be content in the knowledge that my life has been meaningful.

I encourage any readers to comment (especially if you have a better name for this philosophy – all the terms that might describe it have already been taken by different movements), debate, or refute as you wish.  Intelligent discussion and reflection by our generation will, like fighting for another half-yard on that opening kickoff, potentially bring us that much closer to the utopia that awaits our children thousands of generations hence.

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