04/24/2012 12:57 pm ET Updated Jun 21, 2012

It Takes a Village

Lately I've been wondering how most people would complete a sentence that begins with the well-known phrase "it takes a village." What phrase expresses our general, common outlook? In my experience, it's probable that the most popular way to finish the sentiment would be "it takes a village to raise a child." Certainly we will all agree on the undeniable truth of that declaration. It takes a village to see to the physical care, the emotional health, the education of any child. That principle is no less certain in our global village and our national village than in an actual place that can boast a population of only a few hundred souls. We can have no doubt that it takes a global village to raise a child in our twenty-first century world and to nurture that child to become a healthy human being who is comfortable with the diversity our world increasingly presents. It takes a village to protect every child, to feed each child, to raise all children. It takes a village to accomplish all these worthy acts.

It also takes a village not to undertake these shared responsibilities. It takes a village not to educate a child about personal accountability, about mutual respect, about civic awareness, about all forms of health. It takes a village to look the other way when injustice occurs, when unjust laws are passed, when just laws are unequally applied as happens every day in every state of our union. As a village, we debate the practicality of feeding the hungry, the wisdom of clothing the naked, the prudence of visiting the sick and the imprisoned, demonstrating clearly that it takes a village to look the other way when wrongs occur. It takes a village to neglect a child; it takes a village to abuse a child. It takes a village to allow a child to go hungry.

It takes a village -- our global village, our national village -- to gun down a young man in a gated community when he's making his way home armed with no more than a bag of candy. It takes a village to wear a hoodie in solidarity, to raise indignant voices, to post our social outrage on the web. It takes a village to sustain our passion for a few days until the next news cycle, and then to go on to another worthy concern. It takes a village to grimace at the taste of bitter fruit while we nurture and water the poison trees upon whose roots our orchard is built. We have to ask ourselves whose children are being raised by our village, whose children are being harmed. Who is running our village? To whom does our village belong?