Humans are curious creatures. We organize our perceptions of the world through stories to explain mysteries and help us feel safe and secure.
Story making comes from our natural inclination to have an internal dialogue with ourselves that narrate our experiences in the world. We creatively imagine our selves in relationships in ways that provide meaning and make distinctions between the sacred and the profane. Just because we create a story to help us understand and explain a mystery doesn’t mean we get it right. When we get the story wrong at the level of public policy for social justice, economics and the environment it can be devastating for us as a species, the rest of our planet and all of our relations. This is especially true for the stories we make up that inform and guide our efforts to educate and raise our children. Scientific theories enacted in evidence-based programs carry these stories that dictate what we do with and for our children, their families and communities. How are we doing with this? The western world that exists today is by and large the result of the stories that informed and guided our education and youth and community development policies and practices over the past 50 years. The news of today is one indicator of how we are doing.
Science has placed a wedge in between the worlds of the sacred and profane. We are the first to experience a completely profane world, (Sharpe 1984)1. It is the direct experience of the sacred that makes us human beings. In the absence of the sacred we become beings exalted by the power of exploitation and dominance, moving farther away from actualizing our real potential to experience the supreme joy and harmony contained within a sacred reality. Rituals nurture a sacred reality, (Blumenkrantz 1996).2
“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.”
– Joseph Campbell
A ritual is a re-enactment of a myth. It features characters with super-ordinary qualities whose origins are birthed from the divine at the beginning of time and conveys moral and ethical values that serve survival. Scientific theories are a modern form of myth and their rituals are the programs generated from these underlying stories, (Sharpe 1984). Scientific theories must have proper citations that pinpoint their human origin. The characters within these myths, wrapped in the jargon of the disciplines (“atoms, protons, super ego, defense mechanisms, viruses, E=MC2”) were not given super-ordinary qualities and did not convey any moral values. Rituals enlist allies of spirit while programs enlist allies of science. A new story is needed that enlists both spirit and science into new forms that build bridges between the sacred and secular worlds.
Become Part of the Story
Over the past several years an international group of practitioners is attempting to forge a new story by remembering our collective shared story of rites of passage. Youth Passageway’s recognizes that no matter what challenges exist in modernity, from climate change to systemic inadequacy the stories that inform and guide the way we raise our children and help them come of age will determine our future.
This October 14th Youth Passageways is inviting people who believe that all children are our children and concerned about their welfare and our future to come together for an International Day of Reflection & Dialogue.
Reflection: What does it takes to build whole communities and repair fractured ones?
Dialogue: What would we be doing when we are all engaged in putting the story of community-oriented and culturally sensitive rites of passage into practice?
For more information visit: Passageways Day.
1Sharpe, Kevin. From science to an adequate mythology. Auckland, NZ: Interface Press, 1984
2Blumenkrantz, D.G. The rite way: Guiding youth to adulthood and the problem of communitas. UMI Dissertation Services, Ann Arbor, MI. (1996).
Written By David Blumenkrantz Ph.D. M.Ed.