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For Newtown - Conversation on the Rights of Passage

The Rights of Passage

"If we fail to initiate our youth into the center of the tribe,
they will burn down the village just to feel the heat." – African proverb

Sandy Hook Elementary Beyond the need for so many to come together to end the kind of violence witnessed in Newtown there is one discussion that I’ve not seen. 

It is a discussion that brings in the tradition of "the rights of passage", examples of which can be found in almost every culture throughout the world.  It is where our young people’s gifts and abilities are tested, their crossing into adulthood honored by friends and loved ones. 

The Navajo tradition is seven days long for girls.  In this fast-paced American culture, it is a serious commitment of time but it demonstrates to our children that they are special, that they are valuable, that they are unique among us. 

If we fail to create these structured traditions, our children will devise their own tests, and in the United States they will echo what they see, reproducing the violent culture they witness everyday whether through mass media or daily on their own streets.  Yes there are Bar Mitzvahs and Quinceañeras but it would seem they have become more about the ability to spend money than they are about the individual character of the children involved.

The Need for Councilling and More

In our most violent neighborhoods, right now and for a long time, we have needed counciling.  These kids are living daily in a war zone and they are in shock.  They are angry and they are mourning.  Their access to good schools, higher education, decent jobs and hope is often just a dream. 

We decidedly need community involvement, police training, better laws, less media programming glorifying the violence, leaders that help to teach and for people to learn how to listen and become involved. 

We need all that, but we also need those traditions again that show our young people that they are valued, that their gifts and abilities are recognized, and that simply, they are loved. 

WE are responsible for Adam Lanza.  We, the United States of America. 

Contact Information

Shannon Flattery:  shannon@touchablestories.org


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Posted: December 23, 2012     Shannon Flattery
Co-Director, The Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy

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