Civilizational Crisis: Broken Femur versus Modern Civilization

Image sources: Economic Times

Quite a while back, the anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she viewed as the primary indication of human advancement, civilization in a culture. The student anticipated that Mead should discuss pots, hunting tools, granulating stones, or artefacts related to religion.

Be that as it may, no. Mead said that the main proof of progress was 15,000 years old broken femur found in an archaeological site. A femur is the longest bone in the body, connecting the hip to knee. In social orders without the advantages of present-day medication, it takes around a month and a half of rest for a cracked femur to heal. This specific bone had been broken and had recuperated. Mead clarified that in the animal kingdom, in the event that you break your leg, you will die. You can’t run from a threat, you can’t drink or chase for food. Injured along these lines, you are meat for your predators. No animal endures a messed up leg long enough for the issue that remains to be worked out. You are eaten first.

A wrecked femur that has mended is proof that someone else has set aside an effort to remain with the fallen, someone decided to be with you in that bad time, someone was human enough to treat you as human and has bound up the injury, has conveyed the individual to security and has tended them through recuperation. A mended femur shows that somebody has helped a kindred human, as opposed to forsaking them to spare their own life.

This case of the broken femur which has healed directly indicates that you have the support of another human being. A collective effort is made and a feeling of ‘we’ is created here which is building a civilization. A civilization where obstructions will come but a collective search for a solution will be done. The feeling of belongingness and a company which will stand with you in your bad times is quite a symbol of civilization which will stand last long.

Image source: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

In this time of Covid-19 which we can see as a obstruct in front of the civilization, a collective effort is needed where we have to support all broken femur means we have to support all who are poor, needy and vulnerable. History itself tells that the civilizations whose collective effort and collective conscience are for the humanity stand still and pass the brutal storms of any kind of problems.

In the Indian context, the condition of labour is very fragile especially in this time of Covid-19. While going back to their villages on their own in the absence of proper resources we can hear the news of their sufferings and deaths. Some of them walking miles and just before their home, they died because of too much exertion on body and mind. Some of them are walking with empty stomachs only filled with water and hope to reach their destination. A few days back sixteen migrant workers were run over by a train in Aurangabad city of Maharashtra while trying to return to their homes in Madhya Pradesh.

These all incidences are indicating only one thing that we have entered a juncture which is having a civilizational crisis where every man thinks for himself. Seems an individualistic ideology is dominating and, if not, can anybody explain so many deaths of migrant labours?

There was a time of partition when the exodus of millions of migrant workers was migrating and there is a time at present when the same thing is happening. What’s the difference between the conditions of these people? Are they not same? Few will argue that this time gave them resources of trains and buses, then my response will ask whether we are able to manage this much only after 73 years! For them, everything is same except now they are dying on railway tracks itself.

Image source: [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

The modern civilization which most of the time talks about the settled group using technology, having a more advanced division and specialization of labour are somewhere lacking this talk on the broken femur and the aspect of support after this broken feeling.

These two aspects of civilization are not different altogether; it’s just that we are not following the broken aspect because of certain material conditions. The aspect of civilization built on the mutual interdependence, without this character the gradual progression of civilization is not possible. So if we want to move further towards more stagnant and sustainable civilization we should look towards more on mutual existence also.

Culture is the mind of society and civilization is the body. Civilization is the whole mechanism and a kind of organization which man has planned in his effort to control the conditions of life. This mechanism of the human being to control the condition of life is going away with the sentiments of humanity. So it’s time to shift the focus on this aspect of civilization which was buried under the road of material development. The recent modification in labour laws and extension of working hours for labours are few examples of this lost sentiment of humanity.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its humans are treated. This broken femur and a helping hand signify the character of a strong nation but a broken femur leading to death in the scarcity of resources and helping hand signifies yet a nation but with a hollow soul equivalent to a stump standing alone with senseless pride heading towards degradation. We have to choose what we want to become.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Dr Mayank Tomar

Dr Mayank Tomar is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at AMITY University, Noida, India

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