We often mourn the absence of “the village.” We lament the notion that as a society, as community members, as neighbors, we just don’t look out for each other’s children like we used to.
And then there are stories like this one: A California bus driver noticed a man and boy on his bus who matched the description of a kidnapping suspect and victim, respectively. He quickly devised a plan to contact the police without letting the 3-year-old boy, who had been crying, or the suspect off the bus.
Tim Watson, a Valley Transportation Authority bus driver, started asking his passengers about a missing backpack and then pulled over the bus so he could pretend to look for the bag, ABC News reported. What Watson was actually doing was calling police. When the bus arrived at Fremont, Calif. station, police were waiting, ready to take custody of the boy and arrest the suspect.
“I became very emotional,” Watson, a father of two, told ABC News. “This could have been my child that was abducted.”
Note Watson’s words: “This could have been my child … ”
That right there, is the spirit of “the village,” isn’t it? To imagine every child as your own and to look out for him as you’d hope other parents would look out for yours?
It’s clear that the communities of parents and others out there striving to protect and nurture children aren’t as cohesive and tight-knit as we’d like them to be. But the instinct to keep children safe hasn’t vanished and it’s not limited to social services workers, law enforcement authorities, and others for whom safeguarding children is part of the job description. Watson proves that. Della Curry, a Colorado school cafeteria worker who broke the rules and lost her job to feed a hungry child, proves that. Harman Singh, the Sikh man who set aside religious custom and used his turban to cover a child’s bleeding head wound in New Zealand, proves that.
These people embody what we’d like our villages to include, showing initiative, compassion, courage, and a willingness risk their own personal well-being for the good of children. I have to believe there are more of them out there, perhaps performing quiet acts of kindness that don’t attract the attention of the media.
The village might not be local anymore. It might be harder to find. But it’s out there. It lives on in anyone who doesn’t shrink from the opportunity to care — to say to him or herself, “This could have been my child.”