It takes a whole village to raise a child."
It's not policyspeak, but folk wisdom. And with its simple message of community and collective responsibility, that idea ranks high on the agenda of the Clinton White House this holiday season. Earlier this month, PEOPLE Washington bureau chief Garry Clifford and I witnessed the force of that conviction when we interviewed Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the lead story in this issue. (The President and First Lady are the first two in our annual listing of the 25 Most Intriguing People.) Clinton had previously spoken memorably about race and responsibility in Memphis in November. When we asked him about a Washington Post article describing little girls in the inner city matter-of-factly making plans for their own funerals, the President's voice rose in emotion as he described how the weakening of family bonds, job prospects and community institutions has turned urban childhood into a valley of fear.
As the President spoke, he was sitting beneath William Ranney's painting Boys Crabbing, a 19th-century vision of an adolescent arcadia that can seem increasingly remote today (it's in the picture on page 38). May-be that's why we were especially touched when a letter arrived in September from two brothers who live in Carmel, Ind., outside Indianapolis. The boys—Timothy and Sean Devlin, 8 and 6—had read Lou Ann Walker's moving story in PEOPLE (Sept. 13) about Camp Janus, a summer camp for children with severe burn injuries. They said...well, let them tell it:
We were playing with matches, fireworks, lighters, charcoal-lighter fluid and gasoline on the side of our house. We were both very lucky that we did not get burned and that none of our friends got burned. For our punishment we had to raise $100 to donate to someone. We read about Camp Janus in the magazine and are donating the $100 we made to the camp. We hope this money makes them feel better, and we will never play with fire again. Our neighbor and our mom and dad matched our money, so now we have $300 for the camp. Please send the money to them. Thank you very much.
Thank you too, Timothy and Sean, and your parents, Mary and Michael Devlin, for showing us one thread of the braid that connects you with two people who live in the White House and with an artist who saw what you are all about 138 years ago.
On Newsstands Now
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