There is no way one person can do everything, taking on the world single-handedly, but there are many ideas that can make a difference for many. I have a picture in my mind as to how a community should come together as I took part in the military community for many years, which was a great example of the saying “it takes a village.”
I had a rather large family and being a military wife; we depended on other wives when our soldiers were deployed to help each other. When we moved to our next base, it was scary not to know anyone and difficult sometimes to find the resources we needed for our family. Most of the time, there were welcoming parties, other women who had worn the same shoes, who would come by and ask how we were doing, or did we need anything.
We lived on base and our neighborhoods were always busy with children playing and friends exchanging hellos. If someone knew another was sick, you can bet the other wives were cooking and bringing meals to the family. I miss the connection of neighborhood within the community.
One of the first things I had to ask myself when thinking about this whole concept was, do I know my neighbors?
Do I really pay attention what is beyond my fence line?
If there was an emergency, could I tell someone their name or anything about them? How do I go about making myself available, friendly, without seeming intrusive?
I am seeing more people closed up, an island to themselves. I am not sure when things started to change, but as technologically connected as we are, we have gone backwards in our human contact. The neighborhood is no longer a family based unit. So how do I become part of a village? What are my obligations as a neighbor?
When a new person moves in, I can see whether they have children or not or if they need assistance. It would not hurt to go over and introduce myself, asking them if they need anything. When taking my morning stroll, maybe take a look around and offer a good morning to a neighbor which may open up some dialog.
I know you are thinking, what if they ask me to do this or that. Maybe I do not want to get in their business. I am too tired at the end of my day to be bothered. I do not have that kind of time. What if they think I am so sort of weirdo?
What if there was a fire in my neighborhood?
How would I know how many were in the house, were there animals, or would I have any emergency contacts?
What if I was sick and no one knew I was alive. I may have laid there for days.
Do I have any idea how many children in my neighborhood that may go to bed hungry every night?
Maybe I can mow the neighbors yard for them, they are elderly and I know she told me he had Parkinson disease.
As I was eating my wonderful Thanksgiving meal, did I have any idea that the elderly women next door was sitting all alone because her husband died last month?
Two doors down Mr. Jones lost his job last month and his wife left him with three little ones. They had no milk for the children’s breakfast.or money for school lunches. I saw him on the porch crying when I took my morning walk but I looked the other way, as it was none of my business.
Just yesterday little Johnny was riding his bike in the cold. He circled my house a few times. I noticed he did not have a winter coat. Would this scenario cause one to step into action?
I know I could give you a hundred thousand sad, heartfelt stories as they are all around us.
When I quote, “it takes a village,” it really does. The only thing we have to do is open our eyes, walk outside our doors, and look around our neighborhoods.
During the summer, I accidentally locked myself out of the house. I had no shoes on, no phone, no keys, and did not know a soul in my neighborhood as we had just moved in. I looked around so helpless. It was 104 degrees out and I could not even walk on the pavement. I felt so helpless.
I happen to look over at my neighbor’s house and there was a car home. I danced across the street and knocked on the door. This young man answered. I explained my situation and asked if he could drive me to my parents’ house, which was down the way a few blocks as they had a spare key.
This young man was happy to do it. He did not think twice. As he drove, I learned all kinds of things about him. He was more than willing to open his heart up to me. I will never forget his generosity. I now know there is a wonderful young man who lives across the street. I know his name and he has a little boy. If I can ever do something for them I will do it gladly. If not for my mishap, I may have never known.
We cannot be an island to ourselves; life just does not work that way. When I say, “it takes a village” I truly believe in order to make a difference we have to become part of that village, part of something bigger than ourselves and it is then humanity will begin to change for the good.
If we choose to believe in humanity, we have already won half the war!