You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. A village means that you are not alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the earth, there is something that belongs to you, waiting for you when you are not there.
While many of us first heard the title of today’s post because it is the title of former First Lady and now Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, which was written in 1996, in fact, this is an ancient African proverb whose goal was to impart wisdom and truth. The intent was to tell everyone that no man (or woman or child, for that matter) is an island! The well-being of the one is dependent on the capacity of the whole to be supportive and nurturing. And yet, this seems to be something that is often lacking in today’s society! While we like to think we all are part of a collective that cares for and about each other, in fact, we are increasingly finding that this is seldom the case. We no more would leave our doors to our homes unlocked at night or when we are away than we would consider diving from the top of Niagara Falls to be a safe thing to do. Now some of this is due to the effects modern technology, and what this has brought to our doorstep. After all, we now hear about all of the horrors that assail humans only a nanosecond after they occur. We view our leaders with a jaundiced eye, wondering what their motivation is for what they say since history seems to prove that it is seldom the welfare of the collective community!
Now perhaps I seem to be viewing the world with a jaundiced eye by what I am writing. Perhaps I seem to have lost hope for the community, the country and the world. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. You see, I know that the thing that will “un-harden” the hearts of men is not something mysterious or unknown. In fact it can be summed up in two words…..LOVE and FAITH! I join the two together because each is, in many way, co-dependent upon the other, and I like to think that despite all of the horrors we see today that, just as Anne Frank said so brilliantly in her diary, “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
It really does take a village and the individuals that live in that village. And like the saying goes, community, like charity, begins at home. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes not just seeing ourselves with a clear eye but looking clearly at the others who live in your community, as well. If you do not know how to be a friend and neighbor then you can’t possibly expect that others will treat you accordingly. So take a moment to think about just what being a friend and neighbor, indeed, a good member of society, entails. What should we do to help our village become a place where the good of the whole becomes at least as important as the good of the one?
- Respect the people who live near you. Not everyone works the same hours. Not everyone has young children. So think about all of these things and be conscientious about noises that might disturb your neighbors, such as vacuum cleaners, music, loud talk and barking dogs.
- Keep your home and yard presentable. Taking pride in the place you live shows others that you take pride in yourself and that you care.
- Welcome new neighbors with an introductory note or a friendly chat. Invite them over for an iced tea or offer to help them as they become acclimated to the community. Share with them things like information about recycling all their moving cartons and tell them the best way to get the newspaper or to the supermarket.
- Respect your neighbor’s privacy. Not everyone is open and gregarious. Many are quiet and subdued. Recognizing the differences between people paints you as a sensitive and caring person.
- Offer to collect mail, water plants and watch the pets while your neighbors are away on a trip. Offer….don’t wait to be asked.
- Keeps the lines of communication open. Seek to share both good news as well as concerns over a cup of coffee or a light lunch.
- Throw a house party or open house once a year. And while you can wait for the holidays, why not make it a special event, in and of itself, by hosting that gathering during a month when there are no special holidays or celebrations! Don’t forget to include those that live alone or who are elderly and may need your help to attend!
There is a reason that our founding fathers adopted the phrase believed to have been first coined by Aesop, “United we stand….Divided we fall”! And yet, do we not read nearly the same thing in the Bible in Mark 3:25, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”? It seems that throughout history, wise people recognized that it would take a village to raise a child, but somehow, years of apathy and entitlement have caused us to forget the wisdom of these words. Let’s change this today! Let the buck (and apathy) stop with us!
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:31-36 NIV
Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry