THE BURDEN OF CIVILIZATION
Civilization is the flowering of the human species. It is both a recent and a fragile thing. The first glimmerings of genuine civilization appeared only eight or ten thousand years ago. This may seem a long time. It does not seem so long when we remember that behind civilization’s dawn Hes a vast night of barbarism, of sav- agery, of bestiality, estimated at half a million years, since the ape-man shambled forth from the steaming murk of tropic forests, and, scowling and blinking, raised his eyes to the stars.
Civilization is complex. It involves the existence of human communities characterized by pohtical and social organization; dominating and utilizing natural forces; adapting themselves to the new man-made environment thereby created; possessing knowledge, refinement, arts, and sciences; and (last, but emphatically not least) com- posed of individuals capable of sustaining this elaborate complex and of handing it on to a capable posterity.
This last consideration is, in fact, the crux of the whole matter; the secret of success; the secret, likewise, of those tragic failures which perplex and sadden the stu
dent of history.