Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whose Village?

Had an interesting conversation the other day inspired by the incident in which Hillary Clinton had a shoe thrown at her. The person in this discussion reminded me of Hilliary's great speech in which she said that it takes a village to raise a child- old African philosophy. I said, I agree but whose village. You see if we apply that philosophy literally and practically then we must acknowledge that the village knows who it is / what it is and who it is not/what it is not. Such a village has group identity, solidarity, it has a bloodline and connectedness to a place; and therefore, it can trust that the group 'village' knows itself and what it is about. And, yes in this way a village can raise a child/children. I ask then who are we, what village do we belong to here in the United States. What village is Hillary Clinton imagining? The response was the State. Well I said, there a personality years ago in Europe who had the same idea and that idea led to millions of Jews being killed. The State (a union of men under the law) cannot be a village (a group of people who live in a place and are connected to that place by tradition). It is a thing and that thing can get out of hand ...replacing the village.
Is there anything wrong with the State after all it is a union of men.  In any society, men have to agree on the law. It is in this agreement that they can form a union. This is why our Founding Fathers came together to discuss the law that they could all get under and become a union of men under the law ... laws that they agreed on. In this way, they become connected to a place and traditions arise out of practices such law which sustains them in their union.
If the union of men under law begins to decay or dissolve, then we must look at the group of men, has the group in terms of who (traditionally) and what (ideologically) changed? If yes, then we can assume that the law has changed too or has yet to be changed.  Laws that have initially good intentions, can lead to both the building up of unions of men (when they agree on the law) and at the same time if there arises traditional imbalance or loss of tradition among men then the law can cause unforeseen destructive breakdown in the union of those men. 
The village never loses its tradition, rather it loses people. Those who do not wish to practice the traditions leave the village only to create new villages in which they create new traditions. Ironically, even when we disagree with traditions, we replace them with new ones because tradition sustains a group in a place.
Why can't a State raise a child or be the 'village'? I am not saying it can't. Only that if it is, it must have traditions like a village, which provide identity, security and comfort. It has to know who its villagers are and stand for them. It must also know that there is a chance that some of its villagers can fall away from it and want to leave. It cannot force people to stay and force people to like its tradition. And, yet villagers who don't like the 'States' traditions, should be able to leave and should not stay seeking to change and or even destroy the State 'village' so that it fits to them. Better to leave and start their own village.  Only in this way can they know who they are and are not.

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