It takes a village … does it really?

Credits: Unsplash / Tim Mossholder

We are all too familiar with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” It is an African proverb that has filtrated the American and western cultures for decades. We can equally use the proverb in other instances; it takes a village to (fill-in-the-blanks)” to avert a suicide or a pandemic, save a marriage, etc.

As an African origin, I often retell childhood experiences of how neighbors, teachers, or even strangers ‘discipline’ you in the communities when you run afoul. Dare you arrive at your home and ‘report!’ It will be double-trouble for you. We didn’t construe it as an abuse; it puts us in check toeing the straight line. Albeit many of those disciplinary actions could have sentenced our parents to jail for life in the western world. To us, we endured and I believe that it has shaped us ruggedly and raised our resilience levels.

Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. 

~ African proverb

It takes a village … But does it really? Or when does, or will, the village “wash its hands off of the child?”

First and foremost, a village never washes its hands off of a child. However, when it deals with an adult, my answer will depend on the hat that I’m wearing.

As a mother, I could never wash my hands off of my child. When the child turns 18, and the authorities hands him/her a ‘bill of emancipation,’ those authorities don’t reveal or declare to them the multitude of responsibilities and expectations that go with the bill; leaving the adult-child to shockingly find out for themselves. It is at this point that most either learn to swim or drown. The mother is alongside, on her knees, crying to God for help for both of them and praying for wisdom, guidance, protection, and other things.

In the African culture, and I believe a few other cultures, too, sons and daughters live with their parents till they marry or are ready for marriage for various reasons. They don’t leave home at the turn of eighteen. It is a support system to assist the children save enough money before venturing out. I’m not talking about the part of the culture that forces their children in marriage to the men old enough to be their dads or grandfathers. I’m sure you’ll agree that there are both sides in every culture.

Most cultures, set the ‘freedom age’ at eighteen. But few, mostly Africans, the age is twenty-one.

The support system is what the saying “it takes the village …” refers to.

As a faith leader, I have seen the miraculous power of God. Why God performs certain miracles, and not all, is His divine prerogative. Because I have both seen and experienced God, I believe that God’s miracles are still possible and that no one is beyond redemption. Timing though will be different for each one. Patience is required in those instances when redemption (or deliverance) seems to be taking forever. In the interim, we stand in faith till it comes.

Constraints to virtual help

There is a wavering of thoughts and whether or not to render help, however, when the village is trying to save (not raise) an adult.

For the record, a village never raises an adult; the adult is a part of the village supposed to be raising the child. I’m not talking of an eighteen or nineteen-year old adult, but an adult in his/her late twenties, a thirty or even a forty-year old.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews‬ ‭5:12‬)

Questions: what do you do when:

  • an adult “acts out of character,” or
  • an adult needs to be ‘saved,’ is seeking help or attention?
  • an adult acts or says things that are “weird?”
  • How do you as an onlooker discern which is which?
  • As a villager, would you jump in to help or, because the person is an adult, would you ignore and mind your own business?
  • Does mental health have a part in this and/or determine your reaction?
  • Does technology, trolls, and catfishes affect (or infect) your reaction?

Two ants do not fail to pull one grasshopper.

Tanzanian proverb

The Answers are relative

It’s easy to discern if the adult is a family member or close friend. But, I admit that it can be a difficult task when the adult is outside of one’s ‘community.’ Even harder in the virtual world of technology, trolls, and catfishes. If you are not a professional (therapist, counselor, social worker, etc.), you can misconstrue the act, right?

It takes the spirit of God to know what to do. We are gods (Psalm 82:5a) here on earth. Our Heavenly Father will not physically come down to save us or anyone. But, by His spirit in us, He will use us to save each other.

I once heard of a social media story about a young adult lady (early twenties, like 20 or 21) who needed help. She posted her story on her page. She found ‘solace’ in a ’pastor’ who offered her a place only for the pastor to start molesting her. One thing led to the other. Eventually, she was killed by the ‘pastor’ because she was exposing him.

I recount this sad story as I remembered it, though it was deeper. The young lady needed help but was driven away by her parents and probably friends into the wrong hands of fate. Could that have been averted? I believe that it could. However, who am I to say.

There’s still good in a somewhat gruesome world.

For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: And in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭24:6‬)

May God help us all to know when to speak and when to keep quiet; when to jump in to help and when to call others in for the help.

This post was inspired by a post of like title written by #LA, #Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50’s. I’ll share the post separately.


2 thoughts on “It takes a village … does it really?

  1. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾. Love this greatly, Sean! Thanks for taking time to share.

    We can write more pages on governmental indulgences. Sometimes, I feel that those assistances sort of put the kids/young adults in more binds.

    I totally agree and love the ending most – “helping create peace of mind for someone that needs it is the village thing to do …!

    You are right about that, Sean. Thanks a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have often thought this saying reflects a very idyllic view, and a nice one to be a part of. So, here in Australia, you vote, drive, can drink etc at 18. Voting is complusory here. You can leave home at 16 or even earlier if you are at risk or are struggling in general and you will get financial assistance accordingly. Vulnerable young adults can even get access to accommodation that provides a protective environment.

    I moved out of home as soon as I could. Our daughter is quite traditional, so like her mum, will not move out of home until she is married, although I have said it’s okay for her to do so. Our eldest boy had moved out, but when the pandemic hit we said he could come home and I believe we made the right decision there, even though there are those days when I wish he was doing something else 😊

    When we lived in one town, our neighbours became life long friends. Our respective kids (our 3 and their 6) would come and go in and out of each others homes with relative ease. In fact, our great friend’s children are now married and have had six children themselves and in amongst all that we are also considered the grandparents as well.

    We have always helped out those who need help. It doesn’t matter who they are i.e. whether we know them or not. I remember on the first day we moved in where we currently live. Our neighbour came knocking on the door. She is a marriage celebrant and said her married couple to be needed a witness as their witness couldn’t make the ceremony. So I said I was happy to be the witness, quickly got changed and particiapted in the wedding.

    Sadly, it seems more and more young people/adults need help. Even our youngest son’s best friend who struggles mightily at times will just turn up and we make him feel at home. We let his mum know where he is. I have even just driven him around here and there because he needed the distraction, a break mentally from his distress.

    Trolls and the like have a lot to answer for too. Evern the most robust of people I know have been impacted by such behaviour. I have had to help a few people and organsations navigate such cowardly behaviour.

    Everyone deserves peace of mind (and there is plenty of good out there). Some lose the plot, others are fragile or gentle souls, others are world beaters and lose focus for a moment. Helping create peace of mind for someone that needs it is a the village thing to do, even though you may be many miles apart 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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