Sunday, January 27, 2013

Margaret Mead, True Civilization, and Human Compassion

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
are you Your Brother's Keeper??


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