Who was it that said: “It takes a whole village to raise a child”? Evidently one source states that this saying is in actual fact an old native American (Omaha Indian) proverb and cannot be ascribed to any one modern day person. The interesting thing is that it talks about a “village”. What is a village? According to the encyclopedia, the definition of a village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town, with a population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. Villages are/were normally permanent, with fixed dwellings, which are established fairly close to one another for sociability and defence. The Industrial Revolution attracted people in larger numbers to work in mills and factories and this concentration of people caused many villages to grow into towns and cities. This trend of urbanization continued and villages have evolved into towns and cities with a community, or multiple communities, that can have numbers of people in the hundreds of thousands. Thus towns or cities are just larger villages/communities, or clusters of villages/communities in close proximity to one another.
Why do I ask the question, you ask, and why have I tried to define what a village is? Well in essence, a village, town, or city is a community that everyone talks and raves about as being a part of, but most are too apathetic to really become a part of. A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. It is a group of people who are connected by durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties, and who mutually define that relationship as important to their social identity and practice. It is a group of people living near one another who interact socially. What!!! In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs and risks are generally shared in common, affecting the identity of the participants, and their degree of cohesiveness. What!!! Are these just other words for: culture, and do we practice it?
In nature, a community is an assemblage of populations of both similar and different species, interacting within themselves and with one another. Groups generally interact in one of three ways: competition – both groups lose in the interaction; predation – one group wins and one group loses; mutualism – both groups cooperate in some way, with both winning. Let us look at some animal communities:
Elephants: form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily with other males.
Lions: the very social member of the cat family, lions live in large groups/communities called “prides,” consisting of about 15 to 20 lions. Females and their young make up the majority of the pride. A single male, or sometimes a small group of 2-3 males, will join a pride for an indefinite period, usually for about 3 years or until another group of males takes over. Lions within a pride are often affectionate and, when resting, seem to enjoy good fellowship with lots of touching, head rubbing, licking and purring. The males are territorial, and will roar and use scent markings to establish their domains. Females do almost all of the hunting. They work in teams to stalk and ambush prey. All members of the lion community assist in bringing up the young; teaching them their needed life skills; and disciplining them; and looking after the old in their later life challenges.
Gray Wolves: Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 12 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack’s territory. Wolves develop strong social bonds within their packs and all take responsibility for their full community needs and challenges.
All of the above will fight to the death to preserve their culture, families and communities. Would you?
Are you part of a “community”, or are you just a spectator who uses community selfishly only when there is an advantage to you to do so? When is the last time you said good morning to a complete stranger passing you in the street, or helped an older person, or did some other good, rather than blaming someone else for your woes? A community is much more than that.
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