Please pardon the pun; believe me, it’s completely unintentional. But when we picture a village, we think of a small community of people living within a shared social construct that works for its residents or members. The term “village” also implies collective responsibility for one another and the community’s overall health.
A village could be viewed as an exclusive private society, as well. So, what happens when a person is banished from the village?
There was a village in a faraway land. And this particular community was the healthiest in the land. Although there were other healthy, strong and vibrant towns, this one stood out as the most prosperous. But suddenly and within a matter of days, the residents began to die unexpectedly. People of all ages and genders were dying without explanation; no one could determine the cause. Doctors, biochemists, scientists and numerous other experts were brought in to help figure out the cause of these deaths—to no avail.
An old man who had been banished from the village a few years prior now lived on a hill overlooking the prosperous community. He, along with his family, was cast out because they chose to live a simple life. Although they could afford to do so, they refused to build a larger home that was more in line with the village’s image; they preferred to live in a modest hut made of bamboo, clay and hay.
As he looked over the town, the old man noticed that everyone drank the water from a particular lake. He and his two sons walked along the stream of water that fed this lake. After a few miles, they found the carcass of a dead animal lying in the brook. They quickly removed and burned the carcass and headed back home to their simple hut on the hill.
Within a day or so, the deaths in the village below ceased. The residents were elated and relieved, and the medical professionals and scientists were astonished—yet they accepted the credit and countless accolades.
Sometime later, it came to light that the old man and his sons, who were banished to live outside of the village, were the real heroes. They saved thousands of lives by simply observing the people of the village and their environment then removing the carcass that was fouling their water and taking their lives. I’m not sure if they ever received special recognition or were welcomed back into the village.
But I suppose none of that mattered to them.
Answer the call when others banish you and cast you out of the proverbial circle because of your authenticity and commitment to loving and embracing who you are. Don’t fret, nor worry; build elsewhere and continue doing what you’re doing.
Being outside of the village can be the safest place to be and put you in the perfect position to help the very same people who asked you to leave!
By Hope Villages of America President & CEO Kirk Ray Smith, BHS, MHS