Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child

The last word of this poem, phat, is a slang word that means "pretty hot and tempting'' or "totally cool.'' Phat is also the Vietnamese name for the Buddha. So phat as I am using it means "totally Buddha cool.''
It takes a whole village to raise a child.
That is what a lot of indigenous cultures believed.
In Bali, when a new babe is born,
Everyone takes turn holding the babe for two years straight.
Not once during that time is the babe put down.
Dolphins do something very similar to that.
When a baby dolphin is born,
All dolphins come from all over---
It does not matter how far away---
To greet and take care of the new baby dolphin
That has just entered the world.
I was thinking, what if we as a society did the same?
What if it were not just up to the parents to raise the child
But the whole town?
What would the world be like if a baby were born,
And everyone came from all over
To greet the new Soul to the world
With gifts and love?
Am I and I alone responsible for my actions?
Maybe not.
I am responsible for my actions and others' actions.
Others are responsible for my actions and their actions.
It is never one-sided.
Think about it.
What would the world be like
If we all saw that child as our responsibility?
Oh, just imagine that.
Do you think we would still have crime
Or loneliness running rampant on the streets?
Just imagine what the world would be like if we lived like that.
Now that, my dear ones, is phat.

Poem by Jessica Mystic. Her website can be found here

My guests from Cape Town arrived yesterday, and already there is an air of holiday calmness and serenity lingering about. They leave for Zanzibar on Saturday, and had it not been for the cruise I'm booked to go on in November, we may have joined them on this vacation.

Abdullah, his wife Badeeah and their beautiful daughter Mila were our neighbours before they moved to the Cape.
The very first time I met them, I knew we'd be good friends... and have been ever since.

So this afternoon as we sat in my lush green garden even before the rains had arrived, we got to chatting about our  lives and our kids and how truly blessed we are for all that we have.

I realised that there will be many aspects of my upbringing that Sabreen will never ever experience. I have mixed emotions about this, as some are better left as memories whilst others would truly have been enriching experiences for her.

The one which relates to the poem above is probably my fondest childhood memory : Growing up in a neighbourhood where fences were used to unite the hedges, not divide the neighbours. Strange as this may sound, most of the houses in my neighbourhood never had boundary walls. We never had walls dividing one home from another. When I walked out our back door and looked left or right, I would be staring at the longest backyard you have ever seen, 10 houses down on either side!

It was awesome as a kid. We'd play soccer or cricket or Cops-And-Robbers in the backyard and it would be the longest field in the world.
Sometimes we'd unintentionally have the ball end up darting across the washing line of newly hung clothes, and we'd get our asses collectively whipped by whichever neighbour caught us.
I grew up knowing that having your ears boxed was not just a figure of speech.
Neither was laughing until we cried.

There were bonds formed growing up as kids that lasted and continue to last well into our own parenthood.

This is probably the single most valuable experience I wish Sabreen could experience.

We truly were brought up by an entire village back then.

Today things are completely different.
I've lived in my present home for over two years and have never once seen my neighbours on either side.
Our walls are competing with our pride, and our desire for privacy and security seems limitless.
The only time our children get to socialise outside of the family unit is when they are at school, or on the occassional family visit to the cousins.
Don't even get me started on playtime!
Our folks would be standing on that back porch calling out our names at dusk, unsure which yard we were playing in but totally reassured that whichever one it was, we were safe a sound.
Today it's all about the Nintendo Wii and the Playstation.
I have friend's who's kids could work up a sweat from all the video games they play.
They even get sport-injuries like finger-cramp and stiff-neck!

So tonight I dedicate Jessica's poem to all those parents who wish their kids could have a peek into the upbringing of a bygone era.