Systemic Savagery: We Aren’t Healing Femurs Anymore


Systemic Savagery: We Aren’t Healing Femurs Anymore

By Jason Miller

“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 she 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—the survival of the fittest—rules, no healed femurs are found. The first sign of civilization is compassion, seen in a healed femur.”

-Ira Byock

If one subscribes to Margaret Mead’s assertion that “the first sign of civilization is compassion,” the political, social, and economic structures here in the US are blatantly savage.

The most current and glaring example is the criminal, depraved, and Sociopathic manner in which said systems, and the soulless people administering them, have knowingly and willfully allowed “pneumonia with fangs” to spread amongst our population at an alarming rate and to have killed more people than the Vietnam War in just a few months.

We are witnessing and experiencing some of the most extreme acts of systemic savagery in human history. Including, but not limited to, profiting from the misery and death of others, stochastic terrorism, peddling dangerous snake oil remedies, the constant barrage of lies, the rejection of peer reviewed scientific conclusions and information, the marginalization and demonization of scientists and physicians, funneling billions to the rich while leaving the impoverished to continue in their economic suffering, the withholding of essential medical equipment to front line health care workers and to dying human beings, and lifting measures to stop the contagion to further economic gain and political agendas.

Forget healing femurs. In this adult version of Lord of the Flies, in which Ralph has been crucified and the Conch obliterated, even the need for a haircut for selfish, cruel people supercedes Grandma’s right to live.

In a social system where money, personal gratification, and rights supercede human life, the greater good, and responsiblity, the most vulnerable among us are thrown to the wolves in this paradigm premised on the law of the jungle.

And along with the elderly and the impoverished, those who are homeless, addicted, imprisoned, and and who have a mental illness are considered the most “expendable” in this twisted social system.

One need only do a bit of Googling to see that vast numbers of people in nursing homes, people in jails and prisons, and people who are homeless are sick and dying of COVID-19. And a vast percentage of people compromising the prison and homeless populations have an addiction and/or a mental illness.

For many years, these “disposable” human beings have been the canaries in the coal mine, warning us that we haven’t been healing femurs (let alone brains) for a very long time. In fact, the malignant personality disordered (Sociopaths and Narcissists) who tend to seize many of the roles of leadership in our “jungle” take a sadistic pleasure in harming rather than healing.

But it’s never too late. Basic human compassion, love for fellow humans, and hope can never be extinguished.

Post Script: This piece doesn’t even touch on the growing mental health crisis we are experiencing during COVID:

And while it warrants significant attention and is closely related to my thoughts here, it’s a topic for another day.

[If you are feeling suicidal or suffering in any way due to mental health issues, please call one of these numbers:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TTY: 1-800-799-4889

SAMHSA’s National Helpline
1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889

Disaster Distress Helpline

Veteran’s Crisis Line
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TTY: 1-800-799-4889

SAMHSA’s National Helpline for substance abuse – 1-800-662-HELP (4357) ]

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