Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Marks of Civilization

As some of you may know, I am eagerly anticipating a peaceful
existence in a small quiet town when I reach the end of my
working years. I want a low-stress life where I can take naps
and pursue my quaint little hobbies in peace.

But small town living is still civilization. I am not saying
that I want to live in a backwater shack with no electricity. I
may be a nature boy, but I still love civilized life.

So, just what is civilization? (Man, that word is hard to type
over and over again!) When the West was being opened up
hundreds of years ago, they considered civilization to be barbed
wire fences, and this makes sense in yesterday's context.
But for today, I would like to offer you what I consider to be
the true hallmarks of civilized life.

If you had been living in the wild all by yourself, (such as
Les Stroud or Bear Grylss on an extended vacation) and you
found your way back to a city, at what point would you become
aware that you had indeed arrived?

The common answers for me would be things such as plumbing,
electricity, and a dwelling that is reasonably secure from the

Now, things like fast food, supermarkets, air conditioning, and
Jillian workout videos, while obviously marks of a civilized
life, are not quite what I am getting at here. These are
convenient extras, luxury items that we are so accustomed to
that we have become spoiled, materialistic, and selfish (don't
be mad, I am calling MYSELF spoiled and materialistic as well).

What I am talking about are the most basic things that are an
indication of some kind of development. I can think of two:

1. Pavement

Think rain. Think...mud. Then think that you will have mud all
over EVERYTHING. When we have our rainy days, it might be
inconvenient to get around, and we get wet, but water dries.

Try to imagine what it would be like if, no matter how advanced
your town was, everywhere you went, you were either driving on
or walking in dirt and mud. And every single place that you
walked in would be always dirty. You would always have mud on
your shoes and on your clothes.

No civilized society should be without pavement.

2. Trash pickup

I love this! If I have something that I don't want, I just
'throw it away'! How cool is that?

I have a piece of paper, garbage, a broken toy, smashed dishes...
what to do with it? I can just place it in a bin and leave it outside
my house by the street, and some kind gentleman will just come
and take it away for me!

Now, you really can't any more convenient and civilized than

Peace be with you.


  1. I love this post!!! I HAVE to have curbside garbage pick up. I used to live in an apt where you had to drop your trash off and ugh lugging it to your car and actually driving around the complex with smelly garbage no fun.

  2. This post made me laugh! Civilization to me would definitely include pavement. Here in the South, you can just be driving a long a paved road...and you know you are miles away from the nearest gas station or bathroom when that pavement turns to gravel.

  3. Dang...was going to say even my town does bulk trash pickups curbside once a week. I need my pavement!

  4. supermarket, or at least a corner fruit and vegie stand.

  5. I've lived without pavement before, but I loves me the trash pickup.

  6. I can live without pavement, I can live without trash curbside trash pickup. I can't live without frozen yogurt. There must be a store very close to my house. So I guess I do need pavement, cause I aint' walking there...

  7. HURRAY for trash pick-up! Seriously, without that, there'd be vermine, epidemics, insalubrity, death...We're taking so much for granted!!

  8. I could probably do without pavement before I could live without trash pickup... get the stinky stuff away from me! (thanks for linking to my blog)

  9. Yep, I guess the pavement thing doesn't have to be everywhere, dirt roads are cool, but for sure, there HAS to be some kind of paving around the house or at the entry, I think.

  10. I loved this post. Made me think how much I take those things for granted, and how QUICKLY things go to crap without them. In Toronto, over the last Summer we had a garbage strike for a month. In the SUMMER. In a city with over 2 million people. Yeesh. I thought the plague was starting. So these things are most definitely signs of civilization!

    Great post!