What is Civilization?
Just what is “civilization?”
I asked myself that question after writing last week’s post about Christopher Columbus NOT being the first to discover the New World. And his still being celebrated for paving the way for Europeans to bring “civilization” to the west.
Will Durant on Civilization
Will Durant spent 50 years writing “The Story of Civilization” and says that civilization is marked by four elements:
- economic provision
- political organization
- moral traditions
- pursuit of knowledge and the arts
He also added:
- Unifying moral code,
- Unity of basic belief [faith or devotion].
- Education: a means of transmission of culture.
The Native American societies of North America lived by the above principles for centuries before the arrival of Columbus.
So on that account, Columbus’ arrival here added nothing to this continent.
My thoughts on “what is civilization?”
I would go deeper than Will Durant, including those qualities that nurture people and the land:
- Care of the land
- Equality of all, including women
- Representative government
- Zero homeless
- Zero orphans
- Elderly are respected and taken care of
- Reverence for a higher power practiced on a daily basis
- Respect for, and kindness to, animals
- Little or no crime
- No need for prisons
- Freedom of Religion
The majority of Native Americans of the 15th Century, and long before that, incorporated all the above values in their societies.
The European nations of the time did not!
Which makes it doubly ironic that we still celebrate Columbus’ “discovery.”
If only he had realized that what he had discovered was a “true civilization” and taken that back to Europe, instead of slaves, the world might be a better place today.
Given all that is not working in the world today, these might be good values to strive for in our current “civilization.”
Please feel free to share your thoughts below.
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Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com