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Be civilized

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead

By Ira Byock, “The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of ” (2012)

ago, Anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a what she considered to be the first sign of in a culture. The expected Mead to talk about hooks or clay pots or grinding stones.

But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your , you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken long enough for the bone to heal.

“A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts,” Mead stated.

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


Editor’s Note: I was touched by the profoundness of this thought. Especially today, in these uncertain times. Let’s reach out to others who may be broken in some way, with compassion to serve wherever and whenever we can… safely and soundly, of course.



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