“It takes a village…” to raise a child,…that famous phrase, used as the title for a famous book written by the former First Lady of the United States and former U.S. Senator representing New York State and currently the Secretary of State for the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has gained worldwide currency. Besides those who may have taken philosophical or other exception to its’ implicit principle, the phrase has been appropriated and used as a mantra for many different ideas and ideals. Some may even say that “it takes a village” to build a house, and I am sure that if we search hard enough we can readily find such an example. The central idea of the book however, is that children are significantly impacted and influenced, for better or worse, by individuals and groups outside of the immediate family and that collectively, the family, and the “village” should work cooperatively and positively towards the development of the child.
For many parents, this is something we already know, particularly those of us from the Caribbean, the South and elsewhere, who were reared in these “villages,” in this social environment, where we were sometimes even disciplined by the “village”. The challenge for us as Adventists is to ensure that the culture, values, and other influences of the “village” on our children are consistent with ours on a spiritual level. Southern Adventist University (SAU) is one such “village” where parents are confident that the rules, strictures and other institutional values and influences that are being passed on to their children are consistent with theirs.
During the October break at Southern, Kristin spent the time in Atlanta, at the home of close friends of her parents. These are individuals who used to change her diapers and whom she knows as her functional uncles and aunts. Interestingly, her stay in Atlanta was tantamount to her stay at Southern because there was never a scintilla of concern at any level regarding her care, influences and overall well-being while she was there, thus Atlanta and the home of Lorna and Clarett English was another such “village”. Similarly and on other occasions, when she spends time at the home of Lincoln and Grace Blackwood in Pennsylvania there was never any such concern, because this is another such “village”.
Southern represents one these “villages” that have played a role in Kristin’s continuing development. Accordingly, Southern Adventist University and Atlanta are both symbolically and geographically “Southern Villages” so we can submit that, in the case of Kristin, not only does it take a “village” it takes “Southern Villages”.