Tin Cottage Journal

Tin Cottage Journal

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Does it take a village?

It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach UsIt Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering I spent years in the Conservative community, where people who never read this book joked about and condemned it, I had never bothered to read "It Takes a Village" qin the 90s. It's been on my "to read" pile a few years now, and I decided if there was ever a time to read it, that time had come.

Regardless how one feels about Hillary's ambition or political tactics, this book is worthy of being judged on its own merit. It offers plenty of wisdom for every time and place in human society.

At it's simplest, this is a pleasantly nostalgic read, exploring the general sense of safety most Caucasian, middle class families felt in the 50s and 60s. Penny candy, walking to the park to play until the street lights came on, the values instilled in church and school, the strong sense of community, community pride and patriotism, and so much more.

Though African American families faced tougher challenges, I have long heard those who grew up or raised a family during that time also reminisce about the pleasures of walking to the corner store, playing outside without fear of impending danger, and how family, friends and neighbors all kept a watchful eye on everyone's kids, intervening as needed, affirming and mentoring, and telling your Mama if your escapades were of a dangerous or ill intentioned nature.

Hillary addresses, within the context of her pleasant or fearful memories, how different our society is today: how long work hours increase family instability and undermine marriages, the importance of monogamy in creating a safe environment in which to nurture a child, and how when families fall apart, the undergirding of our entire society is torn asunder.

She speaks of how our sense of alienation, fear of strangers, and inability to feel safe anywhere, limits our involvement in community, cooperative service projects, and ability to raise children to be free, run and play, or even go to the corner store without a sense of forboding.

She reminds of things we took for granted, such as good schools, public pools & playgrounds, safe streets, and neighborhood policemen who knew your family and were our mentors, protectors and  friends. Libraries were free, most school supplies were provided, we had recess twice a day, participated in public performances, created art & explored many types of physical activities to increase our health and fitness.

She explores how extremist political policies have robbed us of most of these ingredients of creating cultured people, fostering compassion, patriotism and developing skills to express ourselves as needed to be active participants in our careers and the national dialog.

By condemning the safeguards and opportunities that made these things possible, by calling it "government interferance" and "communism," we have allowed private business to take over these privileges and have ceded our American inheritance to corporations who monopolize our resources and hold them for ransom at unaffordable prices.

Though "Mayberry" was never a complete reality, its spirit did exist in communities who fostered its sustaining values for many generations. In the name of "free market," we've sold our birthright as Americans to preserve community rooted in our shared strengths, wisdom and contributions. We now sacrifice our mutually owned public amenities to private control. Public libraries, school systems and public utilites are becoming increasingly owned or controlled by private interests. Guardians and transmitters of classic literature, art, history and the 3 RS have become purveyors of pop culture, mythological versions of history, and expensive tutoring with the sole intention of gaining profit, whether or not they successfully perform or deliver the promised goods and services.

The Hillary who wrote this book in no way resembles the person the conservative right presents as a murderer and a dictator who will ruin our lives.This Hillary is a person of commitment, humility and a desire to serve.  Whatever the sum total of Hillary Clinton may be, the foundational building blocks of a healthy society offered in "It Takes a Village " are generally agreed upon by most Americans.  Only suspicion and political programming keep us from exercising our rights and reclaiming our personal and common birthright from those we allowed to defraud us of it.

I'm taking my time with this book, so I have no idea when I will finish it. I'm sipping it like a fresh cup of coffee. It's a pleasure to read.