A student asked anthropologist Margaret Mead for the earliest sign of civilization in a given culture. He expected the answer to be a clay pot or perhaps a fish hook or grinding stone. Her answer was, “A healed femur.”
Mead explained that no mended bones are found where the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, reigns. A healed femur shows that someone cares. Someone had to do that injured person’s hunting and gathering until the leg healed. The evidence of compassion is the first sign of civilization. When our congregations are educated about mental illness, care and compassion replace stigma and fear.