Letter to the Editor

In this time of divisiveness following the election, it is important for us to remember the ties that bind us. We have more in common than what divides us. To begin with, we share a common past.

Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead was once asked by a student when the first signs of civilization began to appear in mankind. She answered that it was not during the agricultural revolution, or in the later appearance of cities. She pointed out that prehistoric fossil remains revealed an individual with a crippling fracture of the thigh bone, which had then healed. In the animal kingdom, when an animal breaks its leg and is unable to pursue prey or elude predators, it very soon dies. But clearly someone took care of this prehistoric individual until he healed. When we began taking care of those unable to care for themselves, Mead said, civilization began.

Crippling injuries that later healed have since been found in archaic hominins — Neanderthals. Why they took care of their sick and injured, we can only speculate. Maybe they felt that when the injury victim recovered and could once again contribute to the efforts of the tribe, they could have a reasonable expectation of reciprocation. Or did they consider that every life had intrinsic value? Perhaps they had developed a sense of empathy — when they looked into the eyes of their suffering comrade, they saw themselves.

Caring for our fellow denizens of Spaceship Earth is who we are. It is in our DNA. We should never forget that not only do we share a common past, we share a common future.

Jim Hamaker


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