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The true test of a civilization

The true test of a civilization is not the census, not the size of the cities nor the crops - but the kind of man the country turns out. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

In Brazil, it is not uncommon during a conversation to hear someone (1) saying: 'it is a first world thing.' This expression may refer to a product, a service or even a place, such as a bar, hospital or shop. 'First world' has thus become an adjective to qualify anything perceived to be better than the Brazilian equivalent. (2) This sort of qualification has become so usual that is used even by those people who have never been in developed countries, hence do not have any basis to compare products or services from different countries.

(3) Furthermore, people have also used the expression to refer to any economically developed country, even if this country is not, at least officially, part of the well-known group of First World countries. The idea of development has, therefore, been associated only (4) to economic development. (5) Put differently, development and wealth have become almost similar (6) words. Indicators, such as GNP, income per capita and so on, are (7) widespread measures to compare (8) most and least developed countries.

Somehow, the idea of economic development has also become a synonym (9) of civilization. The most (10) economic developed countries are also said to be the most civilized ones. For many Brazilians, to be a First World, or a civilized, country means necessarily to be a wealthy country. (11) Reaching the heaven i.e. civilization means to be economically developed. For many Brazilians, (12) the day they will be able to consume First World products and services their country will have finally become a civilized nation.

Nevertheless, civilization is a more complex phenomenon than (13) simple economic development. For instance, the United States is, by any economic standard, an (14) economic developed country. It is also, for many people, the symbol of a civilized nation. This example (15) actually illustrates why these two concepts are not synonymous. In addition, this example summarizes a paradox inherent to this association.

America's economic growth (16) in the last century undoubtedly propelled the country to (17) the condition of an (18) economic developed nation. However, its past and present indifference regarding the effects of this economic growth on other countries does not permit one to describe this country as (19) a civilized one. Civilization cannot be reduced to borders, but should be related to (20) the whole mankind. As long as Americans appear to be concerned only by (21) the economic development within their own borders and not by the consequences of this growth, their country should not be defined as a civilized nation.


(1) Correction: Use a comma (,) instead of a colon (: ) to set off a quotation. Also, use " rather than ' and place the period inside the set of quotation marks (American) rather than outside (British).
(2) Suggestion only: This is a run-on sentence! End the first sentence with "countries" and begin the next sentence with "Hence."
(3) Suggestion only: Using "furthermore" and "also" in the same sentence feels repetitious. Therefore, consider deleting one of them - perhaps "furthermore."
(4) Correction: Change "to: economic development" to "with economic development."
(5) Suggestion only: Change "put" to "expressed."
(6) Suggestion only: Change "words" to "in meaning."
(7) Correction: Change "widespread measures" to "widely used measures" or "frequently-used measures."
(8) Correction: Insert "the."
(9) Correction: Use "for" rather than "of."
(10) Correction: Change "economic" (adjective) to "economically" (adverb).
(11) Suggestion only: Change "Reaching the heaven i.e. civilization" to "attaining the exalted level known as civilization."
(12) Suggestion only: Change "the day they will be able to consume First World products and services their country will have finally become a civilized nation" to "the day on which they will be able to consume First World products and services will be the day on which their country will have finally become a civilized nation."
(13) Suggestion only: Insert "a."
(14) Correction: Use "economically-developed" (adverb), not "economic-developed" (adjective).
(15) Suggestion only: Delete "actually."
(16) Suggestion only: Use "during" instead of "in."
(17) Suggestion only: Use "a state" instead of "the condition."
(18) Correction: Use "economically" instead of "economic."
(19) Suggestion only: Change "a civilized one" to "civilized."
(20) Suggestion only: Change "the whole mankind" to "all of mankind."
(21) Correction: Delete "the."

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