An Phar Culture
The An Phar have developed an enviable, almost Utopian meritocratic society. Social Status is important to the Phar because he knows that his advancement is limited only by his ability.
Upon reaching majority each Phar is considered to be Status 0. Upon completing the cultural equivalent of a college degree the Phar is automatically granted a Status of 1 (more than half the An Phar population attends college and almost all graduate). A parent of high status can arbitrarily grant a child who carries his family name a status no higher than two levels below his own (some children, and some parents, prefer the children to do it the hard way). Though there is no official mechanism for automatically raising the status of a spouse, the culture generally sees to it that mated couples keep individual statuses no more than one increment apart.
To increase his status, an adult Phar must first get a sponsor of the next status level. The sponsor then prepares a written summary extolling the candidate’s qualifications and character (often the summary is actually prepared by the candidate, and merely signed by the sponsor). The sponsor then seeks co-sponsors, who, based on the summary, agree that the candidate should be elevated. It normally requires 20 co-sponsors before a candidate is elevated. Elevation is quite formal, and an occasion for celebration. The candidate’s friends and family give gifts.
Demographically, about 30% of the Phar are Status 0, 60% are Status 1, 5% are Status 2, 3% Status 3, 1.3% Status 4, .5% Status 5, and .2% Status 6. There is only one Phar at a time with Status 7.
It is extremely important to every mated Phar to produce two children, one to carry on the family names of each spouse. A widowed Phar will not remarry, but if the union produced fewer than two children the survivor may enter into a procreation agreement, typically with a trusted friend (to propagate the survivor’s family) or a member of the deceased’s family. In modern times, however, it is becoming more common for a couple to simply leave sperm and eggs frozen, to be fertilized and brought to term artificially, in the event of an individual’s or the couple’s untimely death. Such “progeny insurance” is available for a modest fee from the Phar government.
If a mating produces more than two children, the couple usually alternates giving family names. Other times, a child is named for a family member who died without leaving children. It is not unknown for a family to change the family name of a minor child to that of a sibling who died without issue.
If the third or later child is not carrying the name of some childless sibling or other relation, he is free, upon reaching majority, to declare himself the founder of a new family. In doing this, the individual declares that he plans to make his own way. He can no longer expect more than minimal social or financial help from parents or siblings. Such a declaration is considered rather daring, and not at all an insult to either parent’s family.
An Phar health care and education are both fully socialized. Each adult Phar pays from 30-60% of his income to ensure that both remain top-notch. Phar generally do not resent this racial tax.
Phar children are weaned when they learn to walk (at about age 8 months). At that time they begin to attend “school” for 2 to 4 hours per day. More formal education is not considered necessary, because the children are also being tutored by their parents, and most Phar are voracious learners anyway. Teachers are usually Pe—Phar. Upon reaching majority, most Phar attend a college on the Phar homeworld for 2 years of general studies, then 1-6 more years of specific career-oriented studies, either at a Phar college or off-world.
The Phar homeworld has long sponsored immigration and colonization programs to control population pressure. The Phar are enthusiastic colonists, knowing that they can expect support from back home.
A Phar living offplanet knows that the homeworld will pay all medical and educational expenses for his family; furthermore if he ever becomes indigent, the homeworld will pay to bring him and his family back. In return, he pays the usual 30-60% to homeworld (adjusted for local taxes and cost of living).
Off-world Phar maintain close ties to homeworld society. No matter where lives, a Phar is always considered to be a citizen of the Phar homeworld.