Write an opinion piece telling whether or not you agree with this statement and what you think "being civilized" means."Being civilized means trying to do everything you don't want to, never doing...

Write an opinion piece telling whether or not you agree with this statement and what you think "being civilized" means.

"Being civilized means trying to do everything you don't want to, never doing anything you want to.  It means dancing to the strings of custom and tradition; it means living in houses and never knowing or caring who is next door."  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Expert Answers
teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quotation assumes that "being civilized" means living within the rules and boundaries of social customs that determine law and order in a given place.  Those who navigate this space are viewed as respectable members of society.  Those who break the rules are viewed as heathens and criminals destined to become social outcasts.  But what about those who defy the social order. . .for the better.  It was not too long ago that Jim Crow laws were still the prevailing rules of social order, custom, and tradition.  Would we argue that those who broke these rules and traditions were uncivilized?  Certainly at the time, there would have been many people arguing that proponents for civil rights were uncivilized, but were they really?  So, I do not agree with the above statement on what "being civilized" means.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with everyone so far.  This is a radical statement because of two extreme words:  everything and never.  Their inclusion here makes the statement irrelevant to real-world living.  I'd rework the first half of your statement this way:

"Being civilized means sometimes having to do things you don't want to, and sometimes not doing things you want to."

The second half of this is metaphor which expresses the same sentiment, with a visual of everyone being a puppet or a being trapped in a box.  The tone is too strong, as are the metaphors. Some may do this and some may feel or react this way, but it's certainly not the norm for most of us in America, certainly.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This statement has grains of truth in it, but it is way too extreme.

Certainly, civilized people must often do things that they do not want to do.  However, they do, in a way, agree to do these things.  They agree to give up some of their rights so that their other rights might be protected.  I think a good definition of being civilized is that you give up your right to do whatever you want so that you can live in a society where your major rights (life, liberty, property) are protected.

If you look at it like that, you are civilized if you give up these small rights and if you honor the major rights of others.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Agreeing with my other fellow editors here, I take umbrage at this statement. If anything, as pohnpei397 points out, being civilised is giving up what you want to do BUT crucially because you know why it is important for you to sacrifice those freedoms. I don't think there is much sense in which we do not give up our freedoms willingly to prevent anarchy - this is the kernel of civilisation.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maybe editing the passage to being "socialized" would be a better word than "civilized."  Under socialism, are not people theoretically conditioned to be unconcerned who is next door since everyone is "equal"?  And, do not people "dance" to convention and the dictates of the state under socialism?Puppeteering seems unlikely in a free, truly civilized society.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
This is kind of a farcical approach to the concept. Like many jokes, there is some truth to it. Being civilized means not doing things that would hurt others. It means having self-control. You can't just do whatever you want, and sometimes you have to do things you don't want to for the common good.

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