Years ago, the anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture.

What do you think? Was it the emergence of hunting tools and cooking utensils? Or perhaps, indications of spiritual or religious rituals?

In fact, Mead pointed to a healed, fractured femur.

She referred to a 15,000 year old bone found in an archeological site. This bone, the longest one in the body, links the hip to the knee. And when it’s broken, the femur requires over a month to heal.

So, in the animal kingdom, if an animal’s femur is broken, it is left completely exposed. Unable to access water or hunt for food, it is rendered vulnerable to predators. No creature, on its own, survives a broken leg in the wild.

That’s why evidence of a broken femur that has healed is so incredible! It’s evidence that another has taken time to stay with the fallen. At risk to its own well-being, one creature has cared for another.

A healed, broken femur

As I look around, I see broken femurs everywhere.

Those marginalized in our society need others to leverage their position and exercise their privilege to shield and lift them up.

Over the last two decades, the children and young people who shared our Spare Room needed someone to come alongside and nurture them in a safe and secure space.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Laini and Teo caring
Laini checking in on Teo at a loud social gathering.

So, let’s be civilized.

Let’s pause to care for the fallen. Let’s carry the broken and vulnerable to safety. And let us live such that one day in the future, people will look back and marvel at all the healed, broken femurs found in our civilization.

Pre-order The Spare Room book here.

#equity #sociallegacy #intentionalliving #purposedrivenleadership #diversityandinclusion #diversityintheworkplace #belonging

Photo credit: Lonely Planet,