The title of the children’s book It takes a Village, which had been ghost written for Hillary Clinton in 1996, came to mind recently. It’s fifteen years since the book has been published.  Much water has flown down the Danube. As this country goes through the most drastic retrenchment in investing in public education that the world has ever seen—just what do people nowadays think it takes to raise a child?  Well to-do parents apparently…  Private schools, private lessons, Scandinavian au pairs, privatization of child rearing.

Hillary, of course had been a working mom.  There is no doubt that the impetus for this book—as well as the theme, came from her.  What did she mean then; what does she seem to mean in retrospect?  She must have thought that in some way village life provided a network of caring people which is very difficult to achieve today.  One imagines that a good bit of soccer-mommying involves building something resembling imaginary villages.

Of course there is a bit of irony here.  If there are four villages in America they are more than likely in Northern New Mexico—this is a country that is built on small towns—Our Town—on metropolises, on suburbs, on ranches… whatever… four villages perhaps.   Why this nostalgia for something most people (least of all Hillary) have never experienced?

Let me provide you with a brief quote from tomorrow’s Financial Times:

South Korea has ordered the operators of the three most popular South Korean online games to block overnight access by users under the age of 18.

The curfew is a response to the case last month of a young couple who allowed their baby to starve to death while they raised a virtual child in an online game. The tragedy shocked the country and sparked calls for safeguards against web addiction.

South Korea—an imaginary country I know passably well—still has a few remaining villages (tilled by mail order brides).  A good half of the population lives in Seoul.  If South Korea is a second world country then the US is a fourth world country.  What parental controls do we need?

Something perhaps on the order of displacing our imaginary playmates with real ones.

About the Author

Joseph Juhász

Joseph Juhász is an environmental psychologist who is professor of architecture and environmental design at the University of Colorado.

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