Uncivilized Civilization

Civilization is an advanced development of humankind that has various cultures and intellectual aspects in a society. To be civilized is to follow many different social and moral norms and be a productive addition to the civilization mentioned above. The phrase “Can’t we all just get along?” is fairly common when people are clearly not getting along. That phrase originated (as a misquote) with Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by several police officers in 1991. (Rodney had actually been a “serial criminal”) Rodney said “Can we get along?” in a news report afterwards. This is all directly linked to the way in which society treats one another. The phrase mentioned is now typically said in jest. It says quite a bit about the turmoil, or uncivilized behavior, that is masked or swept aside from one moment to the next.  Ambrose Bierce says (Bierce, pg 3.) “I know of no savage custom or habit of thought which has not its mate in civilized countries. For every mischievous or absurd practice of the natural man I can name you one of ours that is essentially the same”. In reference to some of the absurd practices, below are some details of several “immoral” practices or traditions in both the United States and elsewhere.

To begin, we shall examine the bizarre tradition that typically involves a girl (usually under 15 years of age, and often before the female turns 10.) being married off to an adult male. In the beginning, this was done by families who were poor, and they sometimes would receive money or property in exchange for the new bride. It’s essentially a glorified form of slavery. Some families just married their daughter(s) off because they couldn’t afford to provide for another person. This tradition is highly common in regions such as several parts of Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, several parts of the Middle East, and so on. Girls who marry this young are less likely to complete their education, become isolated, and are more likely to suffer from domestic violence, sexual abuse, and even rape(Child Marriage icrw.org). They are also likely to have birth complications that could lead to death. Pregnant girls from fifteen to twenty are twice as likely to die during childbirth as those in their twenties. Pregnant girls under the age of fifteen are five times more likely to die during childbirth.

Another awful practice is the current problems with healthcare in the United States. A study done by the American Journal of Public Health in 2009, showed that around 45,000 people a year die as a result to the lack of health coverage (Cecere). A long time ago, people grew up wanting to be doctors because they wanted to help people. Now kids have grown accustomed to the idea or concept that being a doctor means bringing in the big bucks. Helping people physically is a tough job, but regular physicians are currently making around 220,000 annually. Specialists are making almost 400,000 a year (Japsen). Physicians and other people who work with prescribing medications are commonly known for receiving gifts, meals, money, and other “goodies” to push specific drugs for the pharmaceutical companies (Ramshaw). Often they are given tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to increase sales of their products. There are also increased reports of insurance fraud because many hospitals and/or doctors’ offices give tests or drugs that are completely unnecessary for the patient’s needs. It is no longer a business of helping people to survive and thrive, but a business to merely make as much profit as possible. People who cannot pay through one way or another are often left to fend for themselves. The fact that those that help people with resources such as housing, financial assistance, counseling, etc. are paid less than half of those that help with physical ailments is quite uncivilized and disgusting.

The next thing we shall discuss is Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. FGM is a procedure where a girl’s genitals are partially or fully removed or injured in the hopes of inhibiting their sexual feelings (Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)). This is typically done to girls between 4 and 8 years old. Unfortunately, it is becoming reportedly common for it to be done to girls days, weeks, or months old (http://www.desertflowerfoundation.org/en/what-is-fgm/).  Apparently, this procedure is done in 28 parts of Africa, several parts of the Middle East, in New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Australia, Canada, and even part of the United States. When the procedure is done, there are rarely any anesthetics or antiseptics used, and the person who does it is typically someone without proper medical training. Usually, this is done with scissors, knives, scalpels, pieces of glass, or razor blades. Depending on the form of FGM, the girl can experience: severe pain, shock, infection, urine retention, injury to adjacent tissues, and/or immediate fatal hemorrhaging (Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)). Long term effects can be: extensive damage of the external reproductive system, uterus, vaginal or pelvic infection, cysts, neuromas, increased risk of Vesico Vaginal Fistula, complications with pregnancy or during childbirth, psychological damage, sexual dysfunction, and difficulties in menstruation (Definitions of Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) and Rectovaginal Fistula (RVF)). They often tell their communities that this procedure is done for religious purposes, as a tradition, to increase hygiene, or whatever, but there really is no excuse for the damage in which they are causing. Needless to say, there is nothing civilized about this act, either.

Some would wonder why I’ve listed some pretty extreme stuff as a reason for why society as a whole is not as civilized as we claim it is. “The very poor can always be depended upon. They never turn away the hungry.” (London, pg 4.) That small quote alone is very telling about how people who have lived through it and seen the struggle themselves are more likely to understand the reasoning behind many different things. There are certain social norms that some would consider uncivilized, and it may be, but only when people are being physically harmed and/or denied physical ailment can most people usually agree that it’s wrong to do so. Some would think that one or a few of the practices listed above are normal. However, not many would even consider the fact that we are all in this together. Just because there are different states, counties, cities, countries, and continents, don’t mean that what we do won’t affect other people. Sure, we as a society have grown leaps and bounds, but there is much more to be done in order to be considered a decent people. To be civilized, we must all treat one another with dignity and respect. People shouldn’t have to suffer, die, or make other people suffer just to prove a point or to fulfill a tradition. For that, it is a fact that civilization is not civilized.



Bierce, Ambrose. “A Cynic Looks at Life”. Book. Pg 3. 1912.

Cecere, David. “New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage.” Harvard gazette. Web. 17 Sep.  2009.

“Definitions of Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) and Rectovaginal Fistula (RVF).” Forwarduk.FORWARD. Web. 2002-2014.

“Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).” Forwarduk.FORWARD. Web. 2002-2014.

Japsen, Bruce. “Doctor Pay Rises To $221K For Primary Care, $396K For Specialists.” Forbes. Pharma & Healthcare. Web. 12 June. 2013.

London, Jack. “The Road”. Book. Pg 4. 1907.

Ramshaw, Emily & Murphy, Ryan. “Payments to Doctors by Pharmaceutical Companies Raise Issues of Conflicts.” NY Times. The New York Times Company. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

“What is FGM?” DFF. WordPress. Web. 2014.


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