SCOT BELLAVIA: It Takes a Village

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When I was in school, teachers each considered their class the most important. They thought themselves astute to load their students with as much homework and studying as college professors would expect of them. But even college students major in only one or two subjects. When everything is a priority, something has to give.

In a rare moment of lucidity for both the show and one of its characters, during one of the more memorable episodes of The Office, Michael Scott laments his being overwhelmed in the face of world calamities and his inability to make a difference. His secretary, Pam, talks him down by saying he doesn’t really have to worry about those things because it doesn’t really affect him.

“Pam, if everybody felt that way, nothing would get done.”

“Yeah, but there’s other, better people out there who are helping.”

Applying this scene to this article removes it from its humorous context, yet it still gets to an accurate point. There are people more equipped to handle societal problems than average Joe and Josephine vigilantes who want to vocalize an opinion on every issue that comes across their radar. A stated opinion rarely contributes to a solution, often it only adds to the noise.

It takes a village to raise a child. Only one person can be his mother and only one person can be his father. There are surgeons for newborns and general family doctors for adolescents. There are teachers qualified for eighth-grade math and others for third-grade grammar. The mail carrier doesn’t babysit and the fireman would be out of place to give piano lessons. Not everyone can be everything.

The Bible has an analogy for the people who believe in Jesus as their Savior. They are all brothers and sisters and comprise the Body of Christ. We read a tangible analogy of this in 1 Corinthians 12. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” God created each of us with unique abilities, tendencies, and interests. Throughout life, these can change and be honed but people will excel if they are focused and using their talents instead of being spread thin doing the mundane everywhere.

During the national conversation in response to the apparent racially motivated murders this year, I felt virtual peer pressure to form an opinion and dedicate my time and mind to considering this topic, and this topic only.

Critical theory says that it’s white privilege that I don’t feel so compelled to “fight” against racism, that I have that option because I am removed from it as a white man. I believe we do have a responsibility to support what we believe in based on critical thinking, respect for the opposition, and earnest research to come to your conclusions. We should also stay informed on current events. But, to ask everyone to dedicate every conversation and every thinking moment to one topic leads to indifference because it is too much to ask.

We can’t be enraged with passion for a single cause 24/7, much less for every cause. To do the most good, we must each focus our attention and resources on the causes where we affect the most change based on our position in them.

Don’t get discouraged at the amount of injustice in the world. There will never be an ultimate solution to all of it but the biggest dent will be made if we put in the most time and resources where we are truly able to make a difference – not where we have a cursory grasp or incomplete understanding of the real issues involved.

Scot Bellavia

– Scot Bellavia