Be a member of “the village”

By Breanna Owen
Special to the Chronicle

A friend reached out to me this week, “Are you doing okay?” My immediate response was “define ‘okay.'”

After a brief chat, her parting words were “it takes a village.” These words are golden truth dear reader, yet the reality behind the phrase is found lacking in our society.

Life is hard, but it is infinitely harder when we try to navigate these rough waters alone. We’re always comparing and competing; inevitably we’re always losing.

As a parent, I feel the comparing, the competing, the judging, and the blaming more than I ever have in this life. Even if it’s not my own children/parenting in question, there are examples all over social media (and regular media) of blaming and judging other people’s actions.

How does this do our community or society as a whole any good?

When my youngest daughter was just a few months old, our family embarked on a day of running errands. Pretty much every place we went, we were met with the usual questions: “are they all yours?” “How old are they?” “Oh you must have your hands full.”

At our last stop of the day, I braced myself and put on my fake-polite smile as I noticed a woman heading our way. “Your kids are so beautiful! Don’t you just love being a mom? I had five kids myself, so I remember those days. Stay strong momma, you’re doing good!”

Those were not the words I was expecting to hear, but you can bet that it made a huge difference in my day. It takes a village to get through this life in a semi-sane state of mind. Life is hard, and we need each other to encourage and support one another.

More recently in time, our family was breaking rule number one with kids: avoiding the grocery store on a Saturday. (If you have kids, or have ever been to a grocery store on a Saturday you know what I mean.)

Our oldest son was enthusiastic about putting items into our grocery cart; every aisle was his own personal speedway. In aisle 10 he darted in front of a lady as she was reaching for her bread.

They bumped into each other with said bread taking the brunt of the collision. As the parent, I immediately began apologizing while simultaneously trying to get my son’s attention so he could apologize for himself.

“Oh, he’s just fine. He’s busy and he likes to help. There’s nothing wrong with that.” She smiled sweetly and gave my son a quick hug as she continued on her way. 

Most people have no problem in seeing their own faults, downfalls, shortcomings, and issues; it takes a village to remind you of all your gifts and strengths as well.

Life is hard enough all on our own, we can all use the reminder that life can
actually be amazing.

Here’s another corny cliché for you: we’re all in this together. Because we are.  Our communities don’t need any more Judgy McJudgertons; we need Helpful Helens, and Caring Carls. We need Supportive Sallys and Been-there Benjis.

Whatever life has thrown your way, you are not the first, nor the last to experience such things. Sometimes the best good that can come from a horrid situation is to use your experience to help others struggling down a similar path.

Being a member of a village requires purpose and action. Be the good you want to see in the world (in case you haven’t had your full dose of clichés for the day).

We participate in the village because we care about the individual people who collectively make us a whole. Even if we don’t know their name, their address, or the language they speak we can still connect with them on a human level.

Ultimately, this life isn’t about what we get, rather what we give.  Don’t be afraid to affirm a stranger, or to stop and help the man with papers flying in the wind gather his belongings.

Because life is hard and it does takes a village.

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