Have you ever heard the Proverb: “It takes a whole village to raise a child”? Probably, since it is a well worn saying that has been used within the title of a books, articles, bumper stickers and even cartoons, which is a testament to its overuse and misunderstanding. What do you think they were doing as a “village” to raise their children? Here’s a possibility and the other part to the story.
They were probably doing rites of passage. But, I’m imagining that everyone in the village was not “doing” something, rather they were all aware of and lived within the story that “it takes a whole village to raise a child” and implicit in that were rites of passage as the way they did it.
There are two central aspects to the proverb – they are - “village” and “child” with the action being “to raise.” In a world that is connected, which undoubtedly those who authored the African Proverb recognized, they would have realized reciprocity between the village and child and that actions engaged in were in service to both and…
But, proverbs, while helpful need reconciliation between the context and culture in which they originated and the misalignment of meaning as it is handed down over generations and across cultures.
We say that: “It takes a whole child to raise a village.” We mean that when the village focuses on “rearing” their children, people in the village will strengthen their connections and be together in meaningful ways that contribute to resiliency and adaptation, which serves their survival. There is reciprocity between rearing children and raising the village for our survival. Within our evolution and in fact the evolution of any species the natural ecology is not designed to serve just one entity of that species, like any one individual, rather evolutionary biology recognizes the single most important entity of our species and others is the group or village.
The time of puberty is ripe for initiation and helping all our children remember their deep connection with and love for the earth, first experienced while in the womb. A consciousness of permaculture will expand into more wide spread actions when we provide community based and culturally relevant rites of passage. Informed by 50 years of exploration capturing 50,000 years of human history the Center for Youth & Community has been planting seeds for this consciousness to take hold in communities.”
For more of the story listen to The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann: Episode 1529: It takes a whole child to raise a village.
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