Skip to content

LETTER: 'The whole is more important than the part'

Reader Albert Wierenga looks back at the story of Margaret Mead
2021-08-23 writing STOCK PEXELS

BradfordToday reeceived the following letter from Albert Wierenga who shares some thoughts on the trucker rally that has been in the news for much of the week.

The trucks and truckers are big news this week. Their Freedom Rally is attracting a lot of media attention and others, as well as drawing in some of the public. Freedom is such a resonant word that anyone who opposes it must be crazy, right? Well, maybe we should not hasten to come to that conclusion.

Like many, I too am tired of the restrictions that block our ‘normal’ movements. Being over 70 means there is only so much time left, and do I like to be restricted like we have the last two years? Certainly not. As a caring member of society, one does one’s duty by getting triple vaxxed, because life is not only about rights but equally of duties. Is the time ripe for us to demand,” Let’s open up everything. Let the chips fall where they may”. After all, we have had two years to get vaccinated.

But are we ready to say to the unvaccinated, “Sorry folks you chose to be uncooperative, therefore go to the back of the line for hospital admission?” It seems fair, but that is not how a caring society work, so that hospital problem remains.

A story about Margaret Mead will illustrate this. Margaret Mead was a famous anthropologist who worked in Papua New Guinea, a country where I also had the fortune to work for two and a half years. This story about her is poignant.

“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.

But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts”, Mead said.

We, humans, beat polio through a worldwide vaccination program. We did the same for smallpox. We gave up personal freedom and strapped on seatbelts to help society become safe. The whole is more important than the part.

So, whenever this week you shout for or against the 'Freedom Rally', please remember that we are at our best when we serve others and first exercise our societal duties to then earn our freedoms.

Albert Wierenga, Bradford