Saturday, January 14, 2006

Not So Keen On Rites Of Passage

I'm watching Taboo on the National Geographic channel, and they're talking about rites of passage. Which got me to thinking about the modern perception of these rites. I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak about them in a negative or critical fashion. Much the opposite, they seem to be lauded; you do hear people bemoaning the lack of rites of passage in modern American culture. I, for one, am skeptical about their value, which I imagine puts me in the minority. Life is a continuous process of becoming; anything which obscures this fact is of questionable value. The use of rites of passage encourages people to think in terms of labels and artificial divisions. Yesterday I was a boy, today I am a man, but little, if anything, has actually changed in the interim. Why not encourage people to think in terms of continuities instead? Instead of providing people with convenient labels to apply to themselves why not enable them to recognize their own uniqueness, the "I am I"? Its harder to think this way, but forcing people to be introspective is a good thing. I'm inclined to think that it pulls down the mental barriers that prevent people from recognizing the control they have over their own lives.

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