I remember hearing this for the first time years ago and associated with Hillary Clinton. I do not remember the exact context and it was before I had children so I kind of got it but not as well as I do now.
I grew up in cities and I always marvel at how people who did not have this assumption that there was no sense of community or that there was not a village feel to the raising of children. I grew up in Astoria, part of Queens - most diverse living area in the world, yes the world - the place where almost every kid is bilingual as are their parents. The place where religions, regions, ethnicities get jammed together, create small enclaves of their homelands and take trains that push them back together where they do not dislike each other as much as they equally and in solidarity complain about the subway, the parking and the weather (these 3 things are a New Yorker must and whatever else they are they are New Yorkers). All up and down the block I grew up on, older women looked out their windows, or sat on porches a lot. They saw everything, heard and understood everything even when they didn't understand English. This was my village and boy were they active in raising all of us. They were nosy and judgmental and had a ballistic missile accuracy with a shoe/slipper. If they told on you, even if you had evidence of said shoe hitting it's mark, you got in trouble with your parents for two things 1) for aggravating the old ladies while embarrassing the family 2) for whatever you did because you were guilty even when proven innocent. To some this may seem harsh but it wasn't because those same people would have tackled a football player if they thought you were in trouble. They were the rubber band - you know you stretch it to see how far you can get but you knew if went past a certain point you would not bounce back but it would break.
I moved to a place where the word village is even in the name of location. It is that in so many ways I have found. The moms in this town are a force - no shoe throwing skills but some amazingly sexy heels can been seen regularly. They coordinate, they advocate and most of all they parent collectively. They are concerned about schools, athletics and entertainment. The dads in this town are seen at events, coaching various little league teams and overall understanding that the moms in this town are a force. We are a diverse set and parents do not mean more than the people who love, raise and have you in their care. I see how they raise their kids and it makes me glad to be part of this amazing location. If you know me - the 'burbs were not a destination I ever wanted to consider yet here I am in a place that feels like the town it is - not built to house commuters but rather a place where commuters become a community when they are home. I have had this village help me with my kids, and I hope I with theirs, since about a month after I moved here. I found friendship, advice at the Library Reading Hours for kids - these friendships have bloomed and my kids call the kids from these places close friends. I have relied on other moms who work from home (as Moms or employees of a business or both) to help me with sick kids from school, as they chaperon trips and of course just in general because I trust that these moms will be the rubber band for my own children. I have helped them when I could with a drop off, a play date for when they needed to get something done and just because that is what friends do. We parent in our homes and we rely on the village to raise the children to the best adults they can be.
I never thought I would live in a village, well except for my fabulous loft apartment dream right outside Greenwich Village in Soho, but boy am I glad I found this one. It has never been easy to raise a child, somehow the world has always known how to throw different obstacles in our path to doing that even when we have best intentions, but having the support of a community has always been a great addition - we cannot be everywhere by ourselves and yet children have a need for a fine balance between independence and NSA worthy hovering. My village extends beyond the town borders - it goes to the friends that I had growing up (as we roll our eyes and "get" our parents so much more now then before and embrace or not some of their parenting), it extends to the friends that I share emails/texts with because they live bit far but are living and parenting in ways that I am humbled by and want to emulate.
It takes a village .. maybe not just for the child but because as a community we are bond together over our similarities rather than looking in from the outside at our differences. It takes a village that is tied through neighborhoods, towns, countries and through the ether to far away places because a village takes care of itself and maybe we all need to take care of our village instead of trying to take over the neighboring one.