Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

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Tagged compassion

The first sign of civilization is a healed femur

Courtesy Shutterstock

“A student once asked anthropologist Margaret Mead, ‘What is the earliest sign of civilization?’ The student expected her to say a clay pot, a grinding stone, or maybe a weapon. Margaret Mead thought for a moment, then said, ‘A healed femur.’ A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. A healed femur shows that someone cared for the injured person, did their hunting and gathering, stayed with them, and offered physical protection and human companionship until the injury could mend. Mead explained that where the law of the jungle and survival of the fittest rules, no healed femurs are found. The first sign of civilization, then, is compassion, as seen in a healed femur.”—Ira Byock, American physician