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Beware 'The Village'

Posted By Patrice Lewis On 05/17/2008 @ 12:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Ah, the village. That warm, down-home, healthy wholesome place where everyone wants to raise their children.

Maybe.

We are urged to turn to the village to better raise our kids, live a greener lifestyle, celebrate diversity (party hat, anyone?) and otherwise behave in a socially acceptable manner. It takes a village, we are told, to do all these things … but especially it takes a village to raise our kids.

What kind of village is what’s up for debate. You see, the term “village” has been twisted and bloated beyond all recognition.

A village used to be just that – a village. It was a group of people with something in common such as ethnic heritage, economic status, or generational roots. “Villages” were found in cities, suburbs and small towns everywhere. They were the neighborhoods, the boroughs, the enclaves and the rural towns of America.

You lived amongst a group of neighbors, most of whom had similar lifestyles, attitudes, religious views and other societal norms. Everyone knew each other. Moms stayed home and raised their families. Dads went to work to support the household. Parents didn’t divorce. Schools supported family values. Everyone went to church or synagogue, and worked hard the rest of the week.


If little Charlie Jones was caught throwing rocks at the Smith’s windows, Mr. Brown or Mr. Johnson could collar Charlie, march him home, tell his dad (of course Charlie had a dad!), and little Charlie wouldn’t be able to sit for a week. Nor would he throw rocks at any more windows because he knew he’d be caught and get his fanny tanned again. That’s a village.

If young Mary Jones was found to be in the “family way,” she was quietly shuffled off to distant relatives, gave the baby up for adoption, then returned to the village to try and resume her old life. It was a shameful thing to have a baby out of wedlock, and it was best to keep the villagers from finding out lest Mary get shunned by respectable citizens. So – here’s a concept – villagers usually didn’t behave in ways that got them shunned.

A village took care of its own. When old Mrs. Green got sick, neighbors brought her food, did her chores and took care of her dog. When she recovered, she gladly did the same for John Moore down the road who broke his leg. Everyone helped. Everyone cared. That’s a village.

Does this sound familiar? For some, it reckons back to quasi-idyllic memories of the late 1940s or mid 1950s. Everything was wholesome, clean and family-oriented.

Naturally there was a lot of dirty laundry that didn’t get aired, but you have to admit one thing about the village of old: people were responsible, hardworking and self-sufficient. Sometimes they were insular and intolerant, too, but there was more good than bad in these villages.

Then the revolution of the ’60s and ’70s hit, and things changed. Some changes were for the better – such as learning to judge others by the content of their character rather than their skin color or gender – but most of the changes were for the worse. Too many women stopped being anchors for their families, and instead entered the workforce and decided that men were oppressive. Homes were torn apart. Personal responsibility became passé. The village all but ceased to exist, and children were cut adrift because of it.

This is about the time that we starting hearing about how we must accept a different kind of “Village.” Parents aren’t doing the job, so “The Village” will take over, thank you very much. You, the dim-witted and self-absorbed parent, can’t be trusted to educate or discipline your own kids, so “The Village” will do it for you. And why not? Where there is a vacuum, something will rush in to fill it.

Today, many parents feel powerless, swept along by the tides of change whether they like it or not, watching helplessly as their children are sucked into a morass of subjective values. So what’s a modern-day villager to do?

First, recognize that you have many, many more blessings than you think. You might gripe about rising food prices, but at least you are not starving. You might complain about the high cost of health care, but when you are sick there are doctors available. No matter how bad you think you have it, there are pits of hell elsewhere in this world that you’ll never see. Those are blessings.

And, you cannot improve your family’s life if you are looking at it from a background of rage, despair and bondage. That attitude will do nothing but freeze you in place.

Look at your children. What about them would you change? Their friends, their education, their upbringing?

You can’t decide who will be the next president, but you can decide who will educate your kids. Is there a conference in The Hague about children’s rights? Guess what, you weren’t invited. So “invite” your kids to a family conference in which new ground rules are laid down. In other words, take steps to recreate a village – the right kind of village.

Look at what complicates your life, then take whatever steps are necessary to resolve those complications. Project ahead 10 or 20 years from now and ask yourself, “Will these decisions improve things for my family?” If the answer is yes, then do whatever is necessary to implement those decisions, regardless of how painful, uncomfortable, unpopular, or life-altering they may be. Don’t complain about it; just do it.

In case you hadn’t noticed, “The Village” is turning up the heat in the pot, and we frogs are just sitting in the near-boiling water, blithely accepting government mandates about how to raise and educate our children. Remember, if you don’t raise your kids, “The Village” will happily do it for you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all grown up now. I’m a mature adult. I don’t need a condescending and pompous “Village” telling me how to raise my kids.

Don’t be sheeple. Learn to be independent and (perish the thought) self-sufficient. Re-form your own villages.

The village of old was your friend. The new “Village” is not.

Beware The Village.


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