It Takes A Village to Raise a Child.
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This ancient African proverb teaches eternal truth. No
man, woman, or family is an island. But in these the lean
and mean days,
community isn't always what it is supposed to be. We'd all
like to think we live in a place where people care about
others -- where
people pitch in to help when things get rough -- where
it's safe to leave the doors unlocked and let the kids
play around outside.
This isn't always what we experience. Instead of
community, we find alienation; looking for safety, we are
attacked by crime; hoping for
a better life for our kids, we encounter gangs and drugs
and the lies of television. People often retreat behind
closed and double locked
doors and try to ignore their neighbors. Politicians
preach envy and hate, dividing us further instead of
working for reconciliation. Being
poor these days just ain't what it used to be.
Nobody Is An Island
During the Depression, there was plenty of poverty and
misery. Jim Crow segregation viciously discriminated
industrious, law-abiding citizens. The very face of the
earth seemed turned against us, as the skies were darkened
by the choking dust
storms of the 1930s. People had many reasons to feel sorry
for themselves. They call it the Depression because that's
just exactly what it
was. You know how you feel when you're depressed. Imagine
how it is when the whole country gets that way at the same
But people connected with each other during the
Depression. They had family and friends around them.
Everybody was broke and so
everybody was in the same boat. And as everyone who is
poor knows, there is nobody who is more generous than
another poor person. So people helped each other out. Not
only with the physical necessities of life -- such as
food, clothing and shelter -- but also with the
spiritual and emotional necessities. It's pretty awful
when you feel like you are all alone and the whole world
is against you. Life is a lot
easier when you are part of a network of friends and
family, a community, a neighborhood.
Life is easier when you are part of a network of friends and family, a neighborhood.
Today poor people are pawns in games of poli-tricks.
People say, "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, my
grandfather did". That
may be true, but many of those "bootstraps" are no longer
available today. And the first and foremost problem is
that the supportive
community of our grandparents day, the village, the
neighborhood, that place where people looked out for each
other and supported each
other, where they shared joys and sorrows, good times and
bad times, in many places is no more. It has gone the way
of the gaslight, the
horse, and the buggy. And we're paying a really big price
for that loss.
It does take a village, to work with the family, to raise
a child and weather the storms of life. If we want that
kind of support, the place to
begin is with ourselves. Community, like charity, begins
at home. You start building a good neighborhood when you
that you will be a good neighbor. If you don't know anyone
on your block, you can take the initiative. You can bake
some bread and
take it to your neighbors and introduce yourself. You can
join a church and become part of that community. You can
reach out to your
own network of friends and start building community.
There are many things that we just don't have much control over. But like eating good food, building community is something that you can do, right here, right now, in the place where you are now -- whether or not you have a job, an education, or a car. Be the first one on your block to reach out and touch your neighbor. Find -- together in Christ -- a new sense of purpose and life on your street. Make your neighborhood your village and find the truth that humans have learned the hard way. United we stand, divided we fall -- cooperation is as important as competition. Maybe, at certain times and places, it's more important.
You start building a good neighborhood when you yourself decide that you will be a good neighbor