Monday, December 2, 2013

"It Doesn't Take a Village" And Other Moral Failings of the Wrong

Recently, I've noticed a common response on the internet to any question pertaining to the role of the government (sometimes the public school system, other times SNAP benefits) in regards to the wellbeing of children.

"It does NOT take a village, it takes a family."

This, of course, is a reaction to the proverbial idea that "it takes a village to raise a child."

I used to think this was a pretty common proverb, so much so as to the point of being cliche or platitudinous. As much as I groan in the midst of unoriginal thought and expression, some cliches and platitudes achieve that very status for a good reason.

Being the unrepentant leftist commie that I am, I usually stereotype the more conservative members of our society as speaking in cliches and platitudes. There is comfort in the moral sanctimony of repeating things that are good because other people before you said them with the same confidence, and those people were not harmed for saying such things. There is order, a veneer of meaning, and a facade of wholesomeness.

I did some light digging, figuring that's all that would be required, to get to the root of the right wing reaction against what I thought was an otherwise reasonable and common sense proverb. Here's what I've found thus far, having only barely struck the surface of the dirt wherein such thoughtlessness is sustained:

A.) It's considered an African proverb. So it's probably from Kenya. You know what that means!

B.) Hillary Rodham Clinton published a book in 1996 called It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The book, apparently, expands upon the idea of the proverb itself. As it's written by (well, credited to) a Democrat and then-First Lady, it's obviously Marxist propaganda.

C.) Communism. A village? Chipping in together as one community? How can it be anything but?

It pains me to say that today's batch of vitriol, as there was plenty enough to go around when the book was originally published, is most likely a result of option C. That's "C" for "Communism." See (different meaning, same sound), I'm teaching you how to read. Doesn't that just scream "gulag!"?

My vision of an idyllic Leave it To Beaver America is one where communities band together and help each other out, and they are especially inclined to help the weakest and most impressionable among them. Maybe you volunteer as a tee-ball coach, or a crossing guard, or perhaps you babysit, or carpool, or bring the orange slices to the soccer game, or donate toys to Toys For Tots, or are content with paying your property taxes.

But no, a struggling single mother needs help feeding her son and daughter, and it's obviously one-hundred-percent her fault. She shouldn't see a dime of a assistance. Kid can't pay for his lunch at school? Obviously they should just throw it away. Why should I have to pay a little more to help the world around me flourish? I have mine, and everyone else can slag off, right?

Wrong. We're in this together. Like it or not, here you are and so is everyone else. If you want to live in solitude, find a shack in the woods. Or an island. I know I'd prefer an island.

Even if you are going to take the utterly selfish perspective on this issue, at least consider how much better your life will be if the children around you grow into healthy, educated adults. You can't blame them for becoming desperate if you don't support them simply because, in your eyes, their parents weren't perfect. I am completely in favor of not having children, but that's what people do, because that's what people have always done. We've also always adapted. And adopted. Why let a little vowel confusion get in the way of a plug for a perfectly acceptable means of raising a child?

If nothing else, simply stating the opposite of the proverb as an argument against it is stupid and lazy. It's the "I know you are, BUT WHAT AM I?" bullshit that too many fully grown adults seem to think is a reasonable, cogent response to something they disagree with. I'd say these adults are the exception that proves the rule.

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