Fraternity

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From Gr. phratria, and from it LL. fraternitas, a brotherhood). Term for the brotherly love that unites all members of the human family. Such love is the tendency of human beings to join in solidarity with others on the basis of shared human dignity. Among the ancient Greeks the concept of phratry was understood to refer to a part of the tribe that had its own sacrifices and rituals. During the Middle Ages f. came to mean the special form of address or treatment accorded to kings and emperors and the upper hierarchy of the Church, and the term is still used in this sense by the clergy. During the French Revolution, the motto of f., along with liberty and equality, became a principle of social organization of the Republic. The sovereignty previously embodied in the monarch passed on to the people, who demanded special treatment with corresponding rituals as the embodiment of f. Over time, the use of this term has gradually been replaced by the term solidarity, and in this progressive reduction ― which reflects the current tendency toward individualism ― people have begun to use the term reciprocity in the sense of a minimal condition of human relations. Nonetheless, N.H. considers f., to be expressions of the universal love that binds all human beings together. In this sense, f. is extended not only to the members of one tribe, class, caste or other social group, but to all human beings, independent of their race, social condition, religion, or any other difference.