I have been told it is an old African proverb. I know it has been part of the Democratic Party philosophy for a number of years. I know that because it has been said by the Democrats that there has been a steady beat of sneers, mocking and laughter at it by many of the radio people who has traditionally been speaking for the Republican philosophy of self-reliance and independence. The proverb is “It takes a village to raise a child.” Of course, the idea is simple. Many of us grew up in small towns where we knew what this meant. In the small town of my childhood if I did something wrong at school, my parents knew about it before I got home. If I had been involved in something inappropriate on my paper route, the word was back to my home before I finished my route. Our neighbors were helping my parents keep me in line.
It was something of that same thinking that convinced my wife and I to allow my son to buy a hearse for his car. We knew that if he and his friends were doing something wrong and they jumped in the hearse to get away, the people around would be able to say, “We don’t know who he was but he was driving a hearse” and there would not be too many young boys who fit that description. The community would be able to help us know what our son was doing and whether or not it was good.
The village of Henderson has recently seen signs that the village has not been doing a good job of taking care of its children. The facts and statistics have been widely circulated. The students at the various schools have told us that we are not keeping them safe and providing a healthy place for them to study in school or to live in the community. The notion of self-reliance and independence has not provided much in the way of guidance and support. The village is going to have to take a hard look at itself and see how it can improve in its care for the young because that will produce a better place for us all. If the young have a future, then there will be less threats to the old.
The two major concerns that have been expressed are better and safer schools and better and safer communities. Better schools and better law enforcement. One way to get better schools and better law enforcement is to provide more resources to each so that class sizes can be reduced, more teachers and aides can help more students, more activities can be offered to the students. More resources to the Police and Sheriff would mean more officers on duty and more protection and crime prevention. But we all know that more resources is not going to happen. State budgets were dramatically cut last year because the Republicans would not continue a half-cent sales tax and there is no indication that there will be more resources to the schools from the State in coming budgets. Vance County and Henderson are not likely to raise taxes so that more officers and resources might be available to the law enforcement.
It really does mean that the village will have to raise the children. It means that we will have to all step up and start taking an active part in caring for and helping our children in order to help ourselves. We may need to volunteer as tutor or aid in the schools. We may need to help with Boys and Girls club, volunteer in a scouting program, help with recreational programs as volunteer coaches, to help plan activities in religious community, make more time available to help in the Library. The nurturing and guidance of the community’s children will have to be our job because we do not have the money to pay for somebody else to do it.
We will need to become aids to the law enforcement community as well. The Sheriff and Chief of Police are alway asking us to be part of community watches, to call them with information, to be on the alert for suspicious activities, to be aware of our surroundings. This is our community. While we would like to employ more officers and more crime prevention agents, it does not appear likely that will happen. We will have to take on that work as well.
The Republican radio “mouths” have had a good time mocking and sneering at the notion that it takes a village to raise a child, but we have evidence of what happens when the village has not been as active and as involved as it needs to be. It will take the whole village of Vance County to make a difference.