Friday, January 21, 2011

A comment over at The Spearhead:

Life: An Ongoing Journey from Passage to Passage
Today…rites of passage are almost extinct. Boys [or girls] lack clear markers on their journey to becoming a man [or woman]. If you ask them when the transition occurs, you will get a variety of answers: “”When you get a car,” “When you graduate from college,” “When you get a real job,” “When you lose your virginity,” “When you get married, “When you have a kid,” and so on. The problem with many of these traditional rites of passage is that they have been put off further and further in a young man’s life. 50 years ago the average age an American man started a family was 22. Today, men [and women] …. are getting married and having kids later in life. With these traditional rites of passage increasingly being delayed, many men [and women] are left feeling stuck between [childhood] and [adulthood]. College? Fewer men are graduating. And many that do “boomerang” back home again, spending another few years figuring out what the next step in their life should be. As traditional rites of passage have become fuzzier, young men are plagued with a sense of being adrift. _ArtofManliness

The long transition from the incompetence of infancy to the competence of a skilled, well-rounded, and confident adulthood, should provide many opportunities for acquiring personal competence and for discovering one’s own pace and direction of discovery and mastery over challenges. If a society — such as ours — is profoundly neglectful and negligent in providing for these successive rites and opportunities for competency acquisition, it will be rewarded with lifelong adolescents who lack both competency and confidence.

Although it may never be too late to have a happy childhood, it may be too late to learn competencies at your peak learning window. That is a pity, but only one of many, and not to be cried over. The lesson to be learned from it is to not repeat the same mistake for your students, children, or grandchildren.

If you are 30 or 40 years old and still trying to find your “vision quest” or “rite of passage”, you have been ill treated by well-meaning parents and society. Do what you can to make up for it in yourself, but try not to perpetuate the crime on future generations.

Baby birds have to first crack their way out of their hard shells. Then they have to learn to leave the nest without killing themselves. They have to learn to fly, feed, survive. Then they must find mates, raise their young, migrate with the seasons, over and over again.

Modern humans of affluent societies wish to spare their young from all of those difficulties. That is the worst thing they could do. Modern college professors too often tell students what to think rather than preparing them to competently mind-wrestle all comers. Such indoctrination — a hallmark of a modern university education — is likewise the worst possible approach. And so it goes, as government takes the place of parents and schools, creating an artificial layer of regulation and “protection” around the citizen.

As new generations of incompetents work their way further into the control rooms of government and society, expect things to get harder for almost everyone. These are the times when you want maximum competence for yourself and those around you.
Labels: competence, rite of passage


Originally posted as a comment to The Art of Manliness?

See also Coming of Age: The Importance of Male Rites of Passage.

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