Village values need to be preserved

As we celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, I'm reminded of the African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child." The question is: What has happened to our village? I remember well growing up in neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone and we all looked out for one another. If my mother was working and unable to attend to my sisters or me, a neighbor was always willing to take on that responsibility. In many instances, grandparents and other relatives watched over the younger ones with insight and guidance.

But this tightly knit sense of family, neighborhood and village is unraveling. In a world where we are becoming more and more disconnected with one another, with texting, Facebook and all of the other modes of communication, our sense of the village is becoming lost.

We have a whole generation that is being raised beyond the influence of its elders. As a result, values are deteriorating. Recent stories of bullying and group violence reinforce the impression that things are spiraling out of control.

I am painfully aware that our village has grown way beyond our neighborhood. It has become the world.

So we must challenge ourselves to reach our young people and provide them with the value of our humanity in this global village.

There is a value to sharing oneself with others. I wonder what it would take to share in this way without reservation and without expectations.

A ray of hope resonates for me when I look at Marian Robinson, mother of Michelle Obama. She reminds me of my mother and many of the women I grew up with, women who made sacrifices for their children in a world that did not always allow them to live up to their full potential.

They taught their children by how they lived life. They handled the tough knocks that life handed out and yet they were able to instill a sense of family that fully incorporated dignity, respect and the spirit of giving. They provided wisdom in the simplest of ways and nurtured their children with love and kindness.

The quiet strength of Mrs. Robinson is an example of the village: a grandparent who, without reservation, has stepped into a whirlwind of activity and relinquished much of her own life to support her daughter and son-in-law in raising their children.

On this Mother's Day, I say thank you to Mrs. Robinson and the first lady. In their very visible lives, they embody the village.

They remind us that we need to access the village to raise our children. It is a responsibility that we all share. If we don't, we are destined to lose so much of what we have gained.

Contact Jackson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Registration and Licensing, at pmprojprogressive.org.