I’ve been thinking about this for a while now because I have an eight year old boy. Every culture in history has had a Rite of Passage. Something to accomplish or ceremony to go through to let a young man know he is now a man in the eyes of society. It comes with the responsibility of adulthood as well as the privileges of starting a family of your own and being part of the fraternity of men.
In today’s world we have nothing like that. We have youths trying to act like they’re a man even though they have never had a father figure. Their act ends up being a poor representation of a man. They perpetuate that the sins of their fathers and tear down the fabric of society.
So that brings me back to my own sons. Some would say its earning your Eagle Scout. I had Scout leaders that had no interest in actual scouting. Leaders that were Eagle Scouts themselves and wouldn’t touch what we were actually there for. So I have a distrust of scouting. If the assigned leaders have no interest in motivating the boys to accomplish anything they are totally useless. So for me scouting is out. It’s not something that has been large enough to have the entire nation identify it as a Rite of Passage anyway.
So, here we are again.
History has seen the Spartans, you spent from the time you were a boy training for manhood. At the age of 18 you were inducted into the army and were now a man. Well, that doesn’t work for us because we have a voluntary military.
The Vikings were another one. You were allowed to go on raiding missions at the point of manhood.
Our culture is producing an ever increasingly soft group of older boys. Notice I did not call them men. I meant it that way. In the wake of not having something set in stone our inner city boys are seeking our a right of passage on their own. Many look to the gangs because there is something to accomplish to be inducted. Then they are a part of something. It’s not something good but it’s something for them to grasp on to.
Not having a Rite of Passage leaves us with a gaping hole in our culture. One I would like a solution to. I think it has to start in our own families. Fathers must find a way to pass manhood on to his own boys and eventually it will spread into the community and groups will form on their own. Groups that agree with a specific rite or ritual and becoming a man will have meaning again. I haven’t figured out what that solution is for my sons yet. I would love to hear ideas from all of you.