Posted by Pamela on January 22, 2007
In Reply to: You can measure the civilization of a society ... posted by ESC on January 22, 2007
: : I cant find the exact quote that I believe originates from Winston Churchill to the effect that "you can measure the civilization of a society by the way it treats its prisoners ".
: Haven't found that version yet. However, my fellow West Virginian Pearl S. Buck (
: http://www.english.upenn.edu/Projects/Buck/biography.html ) said:
: "The test of a civilization is in the way it cares for its helpless members." Pearl S. Buck. 21st Century Dictionary of Quotations, edited by The Princeton Language Institute. Dell Publishing, New York, 1993. Page 76.
"The true test of society is how well it treats its prisoners and old people." This phrase has its roots in several different sources. Pearl Buck in My Several Worlds p. 337 wrote "Yet somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or to be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares
for its helpless members." Winston Churchill also wrote in Closing the Ring on p. 679 that, "Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization." Dostoevsky reportedly said that "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." Lastly John F. Kennedy in a message to Congress said that "On the basis of
his study of the world's great civilizations, the historian Toynbee concluded that a society's quality and durability can best be measured 'by
the respect and care given its elderly citizens.'"