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The start of civilization

1 min

How does someone become civilized?

The opposite of barbaric heavens. To be polite and well-mannered. Author of The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life Ira Byock describes it otherwise:

“We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.”

Who knew that being civilized and improvement could be linked together. After all, civilized means to be at an advanced stage of social and cultural development. I thought this stage was historic, but is it not. It can still be referred to today to define as still creating progress.

A student once asked American anthropologist Margaret Mead what the initial signs of civilization were. It is not what you think of off the bat. Not fishhooks or spears to hunt.

The first sign showing this advanced stage of development in a culture was healing a bone. Humans being mammals and part of the animal kingdom previously would have died with a broken leg. It meant game over. You were scrap for predators. When civilization came along, individuals could outlive their broke femur bone to allow their thigh to heal.

This shows a dependency. That someone else cared enough to care for another. To outlive their brokenness, they relied on one anther. Civilization began where there were helping hands to support through difficulty.

This will never go out of style. It is altruistic to support. It is also best to be civilized and think of your neighbor. Moral of the story: Care for femurs.


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