The world renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked the question about her work, “What was the first sign of civilization for me? Was it the axe-head? Or was it the arrowhead or was it a fish hook? Or maybe it was something more sophisticated like a musical instrument, or a colored ceramic bowl?
She paused gently and returned an answer that was a surprise to her inquisitor. She said, “The first sign of civilization for me was the discovery of a broken leg bone, the healed femur bone of a human being.” The inquirer was somewhat confused. It was not an artifact or something made by humans; it was the human bone itself that demonstrated civilization. It was somebody who had walked along the earth; somebody who had been wounded and who had been healed. That, for Margaret Meade, was the sign of true civilization.
Dr. Margaret Meade went on to explain that for her the true sign of civilization was that broken bone that had healed because the law of the land that reigned supreme was “the survival of the fittest.” And a broken femur, leg bone, was the sure sign of death because that person was unable to hunt; unable to walk. For a bone to be healed, Margaret Meade maintained another human being had to care for that person until the bone healed. Somebody else would have had to hunt; somebody else would have had to gather; somebody else would have had to protect. Someone else had to care for the person while the femur healed. In other words, for Margaret Meade, compassion was the first sign of civilization..." from this sermon