There is this new movement happening in Germany, namely “species-appropriate”. Species-appropriate keeping, species-appropriate feeding, species-appropriate transport, …that’s what it’s NOT about. At least not species-appropriate animal keeping. This movement is all about us humans, our way of living and how we should give birth and bring up our children. There are even species-appropriate coaches out there who aim to help us to get back to our natural life form. It’s strange and yet there is a huge demand. If you are German and you haven’t heard of it – you are probably not having a baby.
We are heading straight towards a beautiful new season called parenthood. And while we are enjoying the pregnancy, we are talking a lot about how we want to take care of our newborn and raise this baby. This species-appropriate theme makes me curious.
A point that it addresses is that we are made for community. I totally agree. We are herd animals (even though I hardly disagree that we descend from the ape or fish for that matter!). We love to feel safe and loved, and we want to belong. It makes me nervous when I read statistics stating that most people at the age of 30 in bigger cities live alone and/or feel lonely.
I am alarmed, that having a family is kind of old-school and that the pursuit of a career is much more accepted and valued. I am also personally unhappy when I read the numbers of single-children in Germany – especially because I am one of them. And even though friends with half a dozen siblings envy the materialistic advantages of it, I would have preferred some brothers and sisters to fight, eat and play with. My husband pretty much agrees with my opinion, he is a single child too.
When I was in my twenties I went on a summer camp for the first time in my life. I can’t even think of one single moment in my childhood when I was allowed to play in the mud or climb trees or swim in rivers. I never learned how to build a tower – until I joined the youth camp as a voluntary youth leader.
Oh guys, I enjoyed every dirty minute of it (so I went on some more the years to follow). I loved the digging up of cow heaps, the rough outdoor games, the sound of breaking bones (okay, slightly exaggerating here). I enjoyed the smell of the camp fire but more than the smell, the sound of the guitars and voices singing songs together. I couldn’t wait for the mealtime, when over 120 people would gather and wait in a line for more than 15 minutes for a spoon of chilli. Waiting was no waste of time. We had fun. We had great conversations and teased each other.
We belonged to a clan, a tribe, a herd. We were fighting together for the awards for the best buildings and the cleanest tent camp. And while a lack of sleep did not matter and people of different ages cheered each other on every day, I was thinking to myself: This is what life is about. This is how we should live EVERY SINGLE DAY! I was dreaming of a camp city, like they’ve existed way back in time. Maybe like the one of the Israelites under Moses’ guidance towards the promise land. I thought: We are all wandering towards our promise land. Heaven. And we are made to do it together. Why not live together, work together, eat together?
After the camp, there was always the so called summer camp hole. The low point. Loneliness and boredom hit. And all that was left were great memories of a spectacular week. I hated it like everyone else did. Being back in the city, back to “normal”, back to school. Back to real life. Why is real life so hard for many of us?
I believe my camp city is species-appropriate. Appropriate for God’s people, who were never meant to do life alone. And if we know our maker or not, it doesn’t change that we are made for community, for love, and to belong.
And exactly that is one of the points of the species-appropriate advocates. When we raise our children, we shouldn’t do it alone or as a small family. “It needs a village to raise a child”, as a well known African saying goes, is true in my sight. We would be so much less stressed if we’d ask for help more often – without feeling guilty. If we’d come together on a regular basis, a few times a week, spend time together, take care of each other’s children, work together, cook together and clean together.
My everlasting summer camp city doesn’t exist – yet. But what if I could be part of a movement and start something new: Build a village, find my clan.