It takes a village to raise a child
Regardless of this saying’s origins, whether as an African proverb or an American one, it rings true in cases of many, many individuals whose uprbinging is affected by so many more people than the two to whom they belong. Parents are the sun to the heliocentric family unit that humanity has always known. But family is something different. Family, in the worst possible example, is found in the never ending Fast and Furious franchise.
No, I’m not launching a tirade on how it’s a drag that has gotten more and more unbelievable as the number at the end of the title has increased. I’m talking about my families: school, jiu-jitsu, and the outdoors.
The laid back, barbequeing, racing, competitive nature of the Fast and Furious family directly correlates to my jiu-jitsu family at Katy BJJ. We are fierce in sparring, diligent in training, and joking in warm-ups. Aside from my own father, these men have choked the life in to me, giving me advice on how to navigate this daunting thing known as “future.” However, the peculiar privelege I have to beckon these men by their first names is what sets them distinctly apart from my uncles (more on this in a bit) and dad. Also, we mutually strive for each other’s pain. Hah!
Less laid back is my former school from 5th-12th grade. Obviously, there are classes and a rigid schedule of different class periods and whatnot. The atmosphere demands more conventional respect of elders, addressing teachers with Sr. or Br. or Dr. or Qari/Sheikh. But the homey feeling of a miniscule student body/student-to-teacher ratio made it so that teachers could be friends rather than prison guards, friends could be siblings rather than cellmates. I do plead guilty to referring to school as tiny prison, but in retrospect that wasn’t true: it was the comforts of home with the diploma of high school. Teachers that never taught me, befriended me. Kids who never knew me, respected me. Of course, there was periodic beef and constant nagging of friends adn being nagged, but that is the nature of the teenage experience.
Lastly, the uncles. These uncles are old men who are fathers to some of my friends. Some of them are my students, to whom I’ve imparted basic knowlege of hunting game, both avian and mammalian; of marksmanship, both smooth bore and rifled; and of safety, both of surrounding and of weaponry. These uncles are also my kin, paternal and maternal, fathers to my cousins. They’ve taught me how to respect my schooling and my elders, they’ve taught me the intricacies of Islam, and they’ve taught me how to deal with people in general, as they’ve been who I’ve spent most of my time with, save my classmates (who don’t know nearly as much as our elders and are usually useless of such urgent issues). Absolute respect is required, for the Muslim elder is equal to one’s parent, and one’s parent is second only to the Messenger himself.
This is my village. Spite it and you will be spited. Fight it and you will be fought. After all, nothing is worth anything at all, unless one is willing to fight for it.