The ”village” metaphor has worn out its welcome

I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way.

I have nothing but love and respect for the people who trudge through the streets of their neighborhood, singing and chanting and praying for peace.

On the march to futility

I also feel sorrow, because they are wasting their time. 

“It’s too much, it must stop,” as they chanted last week, last year, last decade.

The other night it was Germantown neighbors, in a march sponsored by the state rep. If it isn’t a politician, it’s a church, or a civic association. Police usually provide an escort and try to proselytize some of the neighbors watching from the sidewalk.

The only successful protest marches I can recall were the civil rights and the anti-war movements. But those were national in scope and were like shampoo — march, rinse, repeat. 

I don’t think sporadic neighborhood efforts achieve anything other than serving as a relief valve for the afflicted. 

Almost every day presents a new murder for comment, many of them quite similar. Most are drug- or grievance-related, settling a score for a real or imagined insult. 

When more than a dozen bullets are pumped into the victim, you can bet this is payback of some kind, not a random shooting. These don’t grip the imagination, and the headlines.

What does? The beating-to-death of a 73-year-old African-American gentleman by a handful of Black kids, the eldest being 14 as far as I can tell.

His name was James Lambert Jr., and he was viciously beaten with an orange traffic cone and other objects on the streets of North Philadelphia around 2:30 a.m., according to press reports. 

The brutal murder generated sympathy for the victim by progressive commentators, of course, who also spread exoneraring goo for the sociopaths who committed the crime.

As usual, blame was heaped on “society,” meaning you and I. One columnist quoted an “expert” who specifically said, “I don’t blame parents.”

I do, among others.

Many trotted out the blame-shifting hoary anecdote about “it takes a village.”

The ancient anecdote comes straight outta Africa, which had villages.

So when someone dredges up the village metaphor, I want to know the boundaries of a village.

Is it the street where you live?

The postal zone? 

The city-recognized neighborhood?

The city?

The state?

North America?


Me, Stu Bykofsky, is responsible, to some extent, for what my children do. I am in no way responsible for what happens in neighborhoods that are on the life support of my tax dollars, which also fund the schools. Not complaining, just saying.

Where does my responsibility end?

The village anecdote means that the family is joined by friends and neighbors in helping socialize the children. It happened to me, and some other columnists, who reported neighbors would rat them out to their parents if they misbehaved, or would interfere themselves.

That’s reportedly what Lambert did, when he asked the kids what they were doing out so late, or adm them, like the elder of a village.

And they beat him to death.

Then, in a revolting turn in the story, some of Lambert’s relatives reported being harassed in their homes by presumed friends and relatives of the accused. Kids again.

So, please let’s put this version of the village metaphor to sleep. But there is another one that might fit: The jungle tom-tom.

Philadelphia police solve (they call it “clear”) only one-third of homicides, which is shockingly low.

One reason for the low clearance rate is lack of community cooperation.

Particularly in drug and revenge shootings, the cops know that the neighbors know who did it.

Few come forward, partly due to fear of cooperating with police — snitches get stitches, goes the saying.

So here’s where the village comes in. If lots of people come forward, there is little fear of retaliation.

Here’s where it is up to the elders to show courage and leadership.

Arresting and jailing the shooters will do far more than any march.

20 thoughts on “The ”village” metaphor has worn out its welcome”

  1. Could not agree more. The marches do absolutely NOTHING. When the churches and the ‘activists’ and the mothers march and demand change, they are also still endorsing the same politicians with the same do-nothing attitude. If nothing changes, nothing changes. You simply cannot demand change out of thin air. krasner, Kenney, outlaw, most of City council. There’s your 600+ murders right there.

  2. All this makes me very sad, and I don’t have an answer for any of it. It would be great if the neighborhood folks got together and, as a unit, told the police what they knew about the perpetrators. But I can only guess what it’s like living in that place, when such action comes with the threat of you and your loved ones being executed. I don’t know that any politics or politicians could impact this stuff. It’s certain that “the war on drugs” has not worked. What now?

    Glad to see that you’re healing.
    Back in the day, and that would be about the same day for most of us replying on this blog, WE were accountable for our actions. We were responsible enough to understand the rules of land, parents, courts and teachers. Those days are long gone. Want to bring them back ? First, go vote at each and every election. Vote people in that will do the job that’s needed to be done. With enough new blood in council, Harrisburg and D.C., things will improve. It won’t happen overnight. We’ve been sliding down hill for decades and it will take time to recognize the problem, then fix it. Sounds hard enough, right ? Add today’s mindset and politics. Stir in graft, greed and corruption and you have this atrocity we call America.
    It is fixable, boys and girls. With some common sense approaches and open honest discussions, we can make things right. Get rid of the laws that support lax enforcement. Use the full force and power of the laws that are already in place. Bring back law and order by having a judicial system that supports our police. Let’s get some adults – not parental units back in the lives of the young. IT ALL STARTS WITH THE FAMILY UNIT. And, dare I say it? IT ALL STARTS WITH BRINGING GOD BACK INTO OUR LIVES.

  4. Like Stan and freeze, I agree and am saddened that these marches are not useful except perhaps to blow off steam. And yes, the war on drugs has been a decades long, costly failure. We do have answers and they have to do with mitigating poverty which accounts for 70% of the variance in calculating maladaptive outcomes for people growing up in poor and fractured families and crime ridden neighborhoods. But, we do not have the political will to address it. And sadly it is easier to maintain the status quo because the mitigation requires money and education and hard work by leaders who actually give a damn. It’s easier to keep people poor and uninformed.

  5. Political will??

    How about parenting the children.
    How about honesty about the promotion of violence in culture, from music, movies, video games, etc.
    How about getting real about education and the negative impact unions have on the public school system from pushing ridiculous narratives and agendas in order to hide the failures of some of their members.

    Since the Roe decision, women have had Choice, they made a choice now live up to the responsibilities that come with that choice, including the tools available for having the father step up, the free education available and the support provided by our tax dollars.

    These kids are roaming the streets terrorizing the city, with no attention being given. Then violence strikes and the parents and community start looking for who to blame, here comes the clergy and then the attorneys looking for a payday.

    I am writing and thinking what a cynic, I am. But I am not making this up.
    All Christopher Columbus’s fault.

    1. It would take all day for me to refute you posts with the available research. I don’t have that kind of time to waste on someone whose mind is clearly closed to it.

      1. What does the research on the violence we are experiencing tell you?

        How does the research you have line up with our present day realities.

        Take the time I have an open mind, kind heart and eyes. Tell me what your books and white papers tell you.

        1. You may have an open mind and kind heart but if you read what I said, it would take me more time than I care to devote to someone who has not bothered to research the causes of violence.

  6. Ohhh…Ok.

    Again, research on causes is wonderful to read, I am sure Mr Krasner has spent a great deal of time on reading.

    I believe we need solutions. U

    1. Krasner may think he knows and understands, but his so-called solutions are ill-informed and counter productive all around. And by the time he gets them, these perps are beyond help and easy intervention.

      1. Wanda, you are completely on-target when it comes to Krasner. I sady admit I was fooled by him the first time he ran for DA but not the second time.

  7. The peace marches that are organized by community leaders in Philadelphia have a long history. An example would be C. B. Kimmons (Mantua Against Drugs) who was paid for his work by the McArthur Foundation. I believe the purpose was to give neighborhood residents a sense of community. However these marches had no effects on crime reduction. The act of shooting someone is a violent event. Perpetrators of senseless shootings provide excuses (lack of respect, he dissed me, rejection by girlfriend) are idiotic. However to the individual gun tooting shooter it makes sense in their mind and to the peers they associate with daily. Changing this mind set is a monumental task. 1st off the leaders of the village should face up to the facts that the residents of the village are responsible for this catastrophic violent behavior. Poverty is not an excuse violent gun assaults. There needs to be a plan in our city. In the short term arrest and incarceration of violent criminals who use guns and carry guns illegally. Educate the village residents of the dangers of institutional welfare. Having children at 12, 14 & 16 years of age with three different fathers is not acceptable, even if your mom and grandmother lived that lifestyle. Most of these children are raised by their grandmother or great grandmother. The father is absent. Educational instruction on birth control to young girls in these setting could have a positive effect on future criminal behavior. Educational classes on the dangers of having children by children should be taught in our schools. Gun laws have no effect on violent gun behavior. It the same as peace marches have no effect on violent gun behavior.

  8. If you take the out of wedlock birth rates of the early to mid 60s and compare to today you can see why we are in trouble. It took about 60 years io get this way . And it’s all because of 2 major democratic blunders. The war on poverty and LBJ great society.

  9. Good morning Stu. I hope you had a good weekend and are continuing to improve quickly.

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