Believed to have originated in an African proverb or Native American tribe, the saying It takes a village to raise a child has become part of our modern day vernacular.
When this saying was coined, do you think the village in question looked anything like our communities today? Of course not. Villages were places where families lived in close proximity to one another and shared common processes, beliefs, and outcomes. If one family was stricken, others stepped in to lighten the load. Adults took a collective interest in all children, not just their own; and the success of the village depended heavily on the proper raising and training of those children who would one day carry on the ways of the people. Does that sound anything like modern day America?
Unless we redefine village as family and throw out common processes and collective interests, it can be argued that it takes a village no longer applies. In today’s culture, Americans are more divided, disunified, isolated, and mistrusting than ever. Even within our own families, many are unwilling to allow relatives to help raise our children, nevermind the village around us. If we can’t find peace, unity, and commonality within strong family units, is it any wonder the macrocosm of those broken families would result in broken communities and ultimately a broken country?
Without strong convictions about common standards, anything goes. And when anything goes, where is the common ground? What do our children have to hold on to, to stand firm in, to ground them? What cultural norms supercede all differences to bring us together as a people? As humans? Without those things, there simply is no village: only hundreds of thousands of individual groups, content in their isolation.
This brings us back to the conundrum of: if it takes a village to raise a child and the village is no more, how do we raise healthy, productive, grounded children? Of course it can still be done, and it is done. However, too many children are left unprotected by parents, negatively influenced by a filterless society at large, and forced to grow up far quicker than their developmental maturity will allow. This is the modern-day village at work. The results: a great divide between decent, law-abiding and God-fearing people and those that would selfishly live by their own rules and indulge themselves to the detriment of all those around them.
So, perhaps a village is raising our children. It’s just that the village is severely damaged and dysfunctional, thereby leading our children to reflect as much. As a responsible parent, you are going to have to consciously define your village and then make sure your child stays within its confines, lest he fall prey to the values and behaviors of our ever-degrading society. It can be done, but it will take great effort. Our children are worth it.
#notafraidtothink #reunifyourcountry #ittakesavillage