If there is one word that describes the meaning of character, it is the word honor. Without honor, civilization would not long exist. Without honor, there could be no dependable contracts, no lasting marriages, no trust or happiness. What does the word honor mean to you? To me, honor is summarized in this expression by the poet Tennyson, "Man's word [of honor] is God in man."
Ezra Taft Benson (1899 - 1994)
Source: Idylls of the King, "The Coming of Arthur," line 132.
There died a myriad, And of the best, among them, For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization. Charm, smiling at the good mouth, Quick eyes gone under earth's lid, For two gross of broken statues, For a few thousand battered books.
Ezra Pound (1885 - 1972)
Source: Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. E.P. Ode pour l’élection de son sepulchre, 1920, V
If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.
Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life.
In Europe, the word peasant was a term of contempt used by the nobility, but the Chinese scholars used to fancy themselves rustics. Agriculture was viewed as a noble occupation; buying and selling, by contrast were considered nonproductive. One of the founders of the Chinese civilization was said to have been the venerable She Nung, the "Divine Farmer." A scholar often affected to be nothing more than an "old farmer" or a "simple fisherman" and referred to his elegant villa as "my thatched hut." This Rosseau-like feeling for the country life is an important undercurrent in the scholarly tradition.
The only limitless thing I know of is human want. Civilization itself is nothing more than the creation of wants, followed by methods of satisfying those wants. At the moment we had better give consideration to the fact that we may not be creating enough stuff to satisfy the wants this education has inspired.
The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phase, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?
Douglas Noel Adams (1952 - 2001)
Source: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1980