Week 48: Monday – It Takes A Village To Make A Change

Week48_Monday

Acts 2:46-47 

 The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. 47 They praised God and were liked by all the people. Every day the Lord added those who were being saved to the group of believers.

“It is the part of a Christian to take care of his own body for the very purpose that by its soundness and well-being he may be enabled to labour… for the aid of those who are in want, that thus the stronger member may serve the weaker member, and we may be children of God, and busy for one another, bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.” – Martin Luther

     In our Christian journeys, we have been constantly reminded of our role as the salt and light of this world. However if there is something we realize, the effect that we have in this world would be so much more powerful if we as a village come close to each other. It would be like imagining as if we were one stick, trying to stop the pressure of the world. Being a singular stick, we break easily. However, if we were a group of sticks that were together, it would take that much more effort for us to break.

     The power of community is something that people in recent years has been thoroughly studying. They find that since man was born a social creature, man was meant to belong in a community. That belonging to a community is what helps shape what the man becomes. Take this, for example. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he pointed out a sleepy town in the middle of Pennsylvania called Roseto. In all respects, there is nothing significant about Roseto. However in the early 1900’s, a physician by the name of Stewart Wolf discovered an anomaly in the middle of Roseto. America at that time was being plagued by widespread heart disease. During that time, it was impossible for a doctor to visit a town and not see individuals without heart disease. However, when Stewart Wolf visited Roseto, he discovered that people not only did not have heart disease, there was no suicides, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and low rates of crime. Furthermore, no one was on welfare and no one had peptic ulcers. People there simply died of old age.

     At first Wolf investigated their dietary habits, and found that their diet was basically the same as anyone in America. In fact, they were found to ingest 40 percent of their calories from fat, which they believed caused heart disease. He then moved on to find out if they had superior genetics. They found that cousins of people from Roseto who did not live in that same town did not experience the same good health as the villagers. What was their secret? Here is an excerpt of Outliers detailing what Stewart Wolf found about the Rosetans

     What Wolf began to realize was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercise or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself. As Bruhn and Wolf walked around the town, they figured out why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat in Italian on the street, say, or cooking for one another in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and saw the unifying and calming effect of the church. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town of just under two thousand people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.

     In transplanting the paesani culture of southern Italy to the hills of eastern Pennsylvania, the Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world.

     The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.

    Stewart Wolf tried to find a reason why Roseto succeeded. He discovered that the reason why Roseto succeeded was not some secret formula that science created to bring about change. It was not a secret of nutrition or superior genetics. What brought about change in Roseto was something simple. Community.

 

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2008. Print.

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