Many years ago, a student asked cultural anthropologist Margaret Meade a simple question; what was, in her opinion, the earliest sign of civilization.
You know, whether it was the discovery of fire, or the invention of the wheel. Or something of the sorts.
Her answer took him by surprise. She said the earliest sign of civilization was “a healed femur.”
You see, in the animal kingdom, where only the fittest survive, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, you cannot drink or hunt for food. No creature survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. You are eaten by predators long before that.
In the world of hunter-gatherers, a person with a fractured thigh bone would be thought of as useless and left to die.
But a femur that has healed is evidence that someone had taken the time to stay with the one who was injured, had bound up the wound, had carried the person to safety, and had hunted and gathered food for this injured person until their leg healed.
Someone had to provide care for another who couldn’t care for themselves.
Margaret Meade said that the evidence of compassion was the first sign of civilization.
We are only as strong as the weakest among us. That’s how it’s always been.
Do you know how we became the dominant species on the planet?Continue reading