Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.
Quotes on the internet have become something like the fake news stories that have infected that same space. Many of the quotes are completely false and have never been uttered by the people to who they are attributed.
You can sometimes easily pick out the fake ones. The language is just wrong for the time frame in which the speaker lived, for example. There’s a good article from The Atlantic from a few years back that examines how a fake quotes grows in stature and how people hold fast and defensively, to it even after it has been made clear that they were not the words of who they thought had spoken the quote originally. Sounds very much like people reactions to fake news– they believe and hold on to it because they want it to be so,
Anyway, I came across this quote from historian Will Durant, the author (along with his wife Ariel) of the momentous The Story of Civilization,and I really liked it. I thought it would pair well with an Archaeology painting of mine from several years back. It was perfect.
Actually it sounded too perfect.
So I decided to run a check to find the source and quickly found several sites that said that it was indeed a fake quote. I was ready to toss the whole thing aside when at the last moment I stumbled on a site that definitively did source the quote to Durant. According to the Will Durant Foundation, these words first appeared in print in an article, What is Civilization?, Durant wrote for the Ladies Home Journal in 1946. They also stated that it was line that he had used in lectures for many years going back to 1933.
So I am pleased to use this quote knowing that it is not part of the awful cycle of misinformation to which we are so often subjected.
Oh, and by the way, when the Earth has decided that it has had enough of our shenanigans, ain’t nothing we can do about it.