The following is a guest post, written by Victor Balasa. He opens up a discussion about rites of passage. In times past these were the singular moment when a boy became a man. These rites of passage helped develop warriors. In today’s society, these lines have become blurred and eschewed beyond recognition. But I’ll let Victor take over from here.
In generations past, there was a clear moment when a boy earned his manhood – during his initiation rite. Today, that is lost.
The lost practice of initiation rites lead to the apparition of new mental diseases such as mental neoteny, an illness which, in the past, was an inconceivable affection. We now have boys trapped in the bodies of men, suffering of neoteny, wasting much valued protoplasm which could of been used for better.
Ancient Civilisations And Initiation Rites
“I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom; I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients.” ~ Gustave Courbet
Ancient civilizations knew that to develop, defend, and expand, they needed real men. And so they created tests and rites of passage to determine whether or not they had a man who could handle his responsibilities, or one who couldn’t.
Greeks had the Dokimasia, which was basically an interview – both physical and mental – held by an assembly of local representatives. After the Dokimasia, it would be decided if the young boy is allowed to be part of society, have legal rights and manage his own property. So they would go so far as to examine his mental state and see if he is capable of managing his future wealth.
Spartans have some of the most well known rites of passage (thanks mainly to the 300 Movie). Children were abused, often to the brink of death, in order to make them stronger. They were sent into the wild for long periods of time to survive on their own and fend off animals. One more brutal aspect is the fact that during Crypteia, an annual festival, young spartans were forced to kill random slaves to prove their warrior merits.
Native Americans had the Vision Quest. The young person would spend a period of minimum 3 days in the wilderness. Being secluded, he or she had to find food. Most often, teenagers would fast in an attempt to connect with different spirits of nature (what we now know to be Jungian archetypes). At the end of this period, the child was accepted back into the tribe, having achieved a more contemplative mind and having been able to survive on his own.
Other Ancient Indian Civilizations practiced more hardcore rites of passage, where they forced the teenager to eat wysoccan, a “drug plant”. This led the child to heavy loss of memory, the idea being that he will forget his childhood.
Tribal Kenyans have practiced rites of passage for eons. When a child is 14, he is circumcised and sent into the wilderness to survive as best he can for weeks on end. He is supposed to transform into an animal, marking himself with white clay and charcoal.
Shape Your Warrior Mentality
“Persian cowards.” ~ King Leonidas
An aside, from Chad:
Today, we’re breeding cowards, not warriors. We’re developing worriers, people who live in fear rather than facing them. So how can we regain our warrior mentality?
Some initiation rites went too far in wanting to transform boys into men. Today, however, we’ve gone to far in the opposite direction. We coddle. We praise trying instead of the quality of their effort. Then, when these boys are let out into the real world, they not only don’t know how to fend for themselves, but they have no clue how to defend and provide for their own tribe.
While this is clearly a blanket statement that doesn’t hold true in every instance, it’s more prevalent than we think. And it’s getting worse.
Our society has failed us. We aren’t creating men, but victims. We teach our kids, from toddlers to youngsters, not only that winning isn’t everything, but that it isn’t important at all. We praise effort, but without circumstances in place for a lack of effort, why work hard?
What will happen when the parent isn’t there? How will the child make the giant leap from feeling needy, sheltered and dependent to feeling completely alone, but powerful and independent?
Society needs to instill kids with the responsabilty and leadership qualities needed for a successful person. After all, Forbes keeps telling us that the worldwide percentage of self-made millionaires is more than 80%. Those qualites are achievable.
What Should We Do?
“…the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Hebrews 12:6-7
I don’t endorse Bible teachings, nor do I preach any religion or particular reality tunnel. Nevertheless, that quote is useful for our topic.
First, we need to teach our kids to set the goals.
Boys should have self-discipline. They should focus on personal development in all areas (physical, mental, emotional), focus on mineral acquisition (yes, I do mean money) and less on women and trivial tasks. Altough age is a relative factor, I think these should take place somewhere between the 12 and 16.
We need to give our kids the gift of failure.
As parents, and as a society, we try to protect our young ones from anything and everything. It’s our instinct to do so. But it can also be detrimental to their development, and their toughness.
Send kids to camp.
One summer when I was 10, my parents sent me on a vacation all on my own, with kids I didn’t know, without money for food, having paid only for the hotel. Bonding and making sure I talked to other kids in order to gain food developed a useful social trait in me, which really came in handy when I decided to start my own business.
I’m not saying these are perfect examples of initiation (sending your kid away to some hotel without money). I’m just saying that parents should think about the goals layed out before and come up with personal solutions and unique initiation rites for their children.
Consider the fact that most billionaires on the planet have had to deal with very,very harsh circumstances as children. That made them stronger, tougher and able to amass great fortunes for themselves in this lex talionis world. That’s even the case with Carlos Slim, which is now, according to Forbes, the richest man on Earth. A long way from his two Lebanese immigrant parents and his humble beginnings.
So why not apply some initiation rites?
Victor Balasa is a successful 22 years old Entrepreneur from Romania, Eastern Europe. His blog about business and wealth creation is called Victor’s Success Blog.
Conclusion by Chad
Alright fellas, this topic is an interesting one. And I’m glad it was brought to me. Has Victor showed us, most past civilizations had these initiation rites. These singular acts that helped a boy become a tough, strong, warrior-like man.
Today we don’t have them, nor should we necessarily. We aren’t going to have a singular rite of passage, but how can we develop better men like the methods Victor gave us in the article? That’s the question I pose to you. I’m intrigued to see what you guys come up with – Dad’s, I’m especially interested in what you have to say about this topic.