What Happened to “The Village?”


A neighborhood with children and families playing outside.In our town, most extracurricular activities in our intermediate school are held before school starts. As a dual-working household, we cannot get our son to any before-school activities. I felt awkward asking other parents for help, even though their child was attending.

Fortunately, a neighbor volunteered to bring my son, which allowed him to participate in an activity he loves. Recently, my son wanted to join the jazz band, but practices are before school, and we don’t know any other families involved. I asked if I could pay a morning care staff member to drive him from the program to his school.

The director offered to drive him herself out of the kindness of her heart. This exchange prompted me to reflect on the “the village” concept and where it’s gone since childhood.

We often hear about the tight-knit bonds that once defined neighborhoods and communities, where lending a helping hand was as natural as saying hello over the fence or in the parking lot. Yet, as I look around our communities today, I can’t help but wonder where that spirit of camaraderie has gone.

In my earnest efforts to foster a sense of unity and support among us, I’ve opened my doors to offer a safe haven for our children to play and hang out, extended a hand to organize carpools for busy parents, and willingly volunteered to provide meals for families in need.

These gestures, I believed, were the embodiment of the neighborly kindness I cherished from my upbringing. However, I grapple with a disheartening reality – a lack of reciprocity.

It’s not that I expect a transactional exchange for every act of kindness. Instead, I yearn for a sense of community where mutual support and care flow freely, where the genuine desire to uplift one another is ingrained in our collective consciousness. Yet, in a society increasingly defined by individualism and self-interest, the essence of true neighborliness seems to have faded into obscurity.

My dilemma is not unique, as many of you may share similar sentiments. We find ourselves extending olive branches of goodwill, only to be met with silence or, worse yet, a sense of obligation to compensate others for their acts of kindness. While gratitude is undoubtedly warranted and reciprocity is appreciated, the essence of neighborly love transcends mere transactions.

It is about fostering connections, building trust, and creating a sense of belonging within our community. Neighbors helping neighbors. Parents helping other parents. 

One aspect of neighborly love that deserves emphasis is the inclusive support of all children, regardless of their recreational team affiliations. If your child played on a team with my child or they are friends, I will cheer for your child when they are playing against mine in a game. This mindset demonstrates our commitment to embracing all children and teaches our kids that competition and kindness are not exclusionary. It also serves as an example of community support – we support one another in all domains; our support is not selective to certain situations and circumstances. 

So, where do we go from here? How do we reignite the flame of neighborly love in our Fairfield County community and model this for our children? The answer, I believe, lies in each one of us. It starts with embracing the values of empathy, compassion, and altruism in our daily interactions.

It is about reaching out to our neighbors not out of obligation but genuine care and concern for their well-being. It is about recognizing that the strength of our community lies in the bonds we forge and the support we extend to one another.

As we navigate the complexities of modern-day life, let us not forget the timeless wisdom of building bridges, not walls, between neighbors. Let us reclaim the spirit of neighborly love that once defined our communities and weave it into the fabric of our lives. Together, we can create a Fairfield County where kindness reigns supreme, and the true essence of neighborliness thrives once more.

Have you found a unified community of support in your town? How are you contributing to developing this sense of community? 


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