Puberty is a time of great transition and potential in our personal story making. Children begin to wonder about the mysteries of the Universe and their place in the world. Their internal narrative becomes more robust energizing their creative imagination with thoughts of increased possibilities.
External influences fuel our children’s creative imagination and inform their internal narrative, which in turn formulates their personal values and view of the world. We live in an interconnected global community where images and messages from around the world bombard our senses. Public and private education environments convey another kind of message about what is important. Raising test scores is touted above raising children in educational environments generating climates that may unwittingly compromise our children’s sense of safety and belonging.
We need a unifying story that conveys values and exemplifies behaviors more favorable to strengthening climates of civility, respect and civic engagement in our families, schools and communities and in a form that includes earth and all our relations. For thousands of years community-oriented and culturally sensitive rites of passage were the way we transmitted values and ethics to the next generation. Rites of passage can once again be a unifying story. They provide the common language for a community’s institutions and agencies to be in relationship with citizens. Children could be initiated in ways that strengthen their own personal and cultural identity and affirm their connection to their community and nature. The emergence of community-oriented rites of passage are designed to convey values that support ethical, cooperative, equitable behaviors and relationships, attunement with culture, ancestors and place, and considers Earth as a sentient being in which we share an interdependent destiny.
Evidence of rites of passage going back 40,000 years reveal individual and community rituals that tapped into private and collective unconscious energies that supported personal health, community cohesion and the well-being of the earth and all our relations (Somé 1993). Rituals, in the form of contemporary community-oriented rites of passage offer a powerful resource. When they are informed by and integrated with contemporary science a synergy occurs that produces more effective design strategies for youth and community development, especially through rites of passage.
Youth & community development through rites of passage offers a language within design principles for this new story. It reflects reciprocity between one’s community, the individual, their family and ancestors, Spirit, and nature all within the 13.5 billion year story of the Universe. Twenty design principles serve as navigational aids that inform and organize new ways of thinking. Within each setting, i.e. community, school, place and culture a new unique story emerges that guides individuals and their community to develop their own initiation and rites of passage practices. They incorporate individual and community resources, cultural symbols and practices and embrace the spirit of their place. The rites of passage practices that emerge through the creative imagination of a collaborating community become their story. There are powerful distinctions between adopting someone else’s story, like those told as “evidence-based programs,” and remembering one’s own story.
Rite of passage stories can weave together elements of the sacred in secular forms that convey values and ethics essential to the survival of the Earth, all our relations and ourselves. Children are a product of their thoughts and dreams. What they hear and see they remember and become. The stories our children hear today will fuel their dreams for tomorrow. Children are our dreams for the future. How we raise our children will determine the future.
Become Part of an Emerging Rites of Passage Story
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.
iii Somé, Malidoma Patrice. Ritual: power, healing and community. Portland, OR: Swan Raven & Company, 1993.
The above is excerpted: “And, How Are the Children? Rites of Passage and the Future of All My Relations,” (Spring 2014). Originally published in 1996 it details the relationship between initiation/rites of passage and the psychological sense of community.
© David Blumenkrantz, 2014. No permission is granted to copy, extract language or design principles, without appropriate reference and citation.
Written By David Blumenkrantz Ph.D. M.Ed.