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Rites Of Passage

When it comes to adolescents many of the “primitive” societies have a much better system than Western “civilization.” There is usually some task set for children at about age 13 that carries a certain level of risk. If the individual successfully completes the task, they are accepted as an adult.

Lacking a traditional structure for this rite, middle school and high school students devise their own systems for determining who should be accepted into the “tribe.” And who should be rejected.

Bullying in one form or another is a feature of the American version of this rite, and it has resulted in major incidents of physical and psychological violence. While the damage to the victims of physical violence is obvious, one of the less visible effects is that some of the victims become media pundits who have never grown up and are still attempting to be accepted as adults.

They form cliques and coalesce around opinions that they approve of and then pass their uninformed guesses off as “conventional wisdom,” to avoid actually having to justify these absurdities with either facts or logic. If they “like” or “admire” someone, in the terms of their world, everyone obviously likes and admires them.

Anyone who disputes their truths, or ignores them is a “bad person,” and therefore must be attacked as a threat to the clique. If they see someone who might give them more power or influence, they will shamelessly “cheerlead” for that person, even though an objective outsider would view that individual as wrong and harmful to the real society.

We all experienced this garbage in middle school and high school, and few if any enjoyed the situation. It is even worse to realize that we are now forced to endure it in politics.

The media pundit clique doesn’t like the Democratic Party as people. Few Democrats are willing to play by the rules of the clique, so few are mentioned by the pundits, and almost none in a favorable manner. While the disaster that the Busheviki have wrought forced the pundits to almost attain the standards of seniors in high school, when the Democratic Party again gained control of Congress, they dropped back to seventh grade.

Much of what the Republicans claim to have accomplished is based on an unrelenting propaganda campaign. The multiple attempts by the Busheviki to control the news and create their own media outlets are based on the belief that they can create their own version of reality by telling people what they should believe. They have progressed beyond “spinning” to actual fabrication of the news, and controlling the op-ed page by making the “opinion leaders” of the media believe they were getting “special access” to the center of power, rather than being shamelessly used as propaganda outlets. The Bushevikis rightly feel that the pundits won’t willingly admit they have been dupes of the Republicans.

The pundits believe that their positions are dependent on their ability to have direct access to the people in power. It doesn’t occur to them that the people in power feel no obligation to tell the truth. No matter how often they have been “burned” by their sources, the pundits keep going back, hoping for the one story that will give them the wildly successful book deal.

If this didn’t cause real damage to the American body politic it would be a bad plot for Faulkner or Tennessee Williams. These people believe themselves to be the “elite” when they are really the intellectual equivalent of “trailer trash”: failed little lives that haven’t progressed, whose one moment of glory “was catching a last second pass in a high school football game.”


1 minou { 11.19.06 at 5:15 am }

There’s a lot to be said for traditions, some of them are still useful, but we throw the baby out with the bath water in an unseemly scramble for ‘modernism’.

I still think that National Service was a good thing for adolescent/adult males – it provided an outlet for aggression in a controlled environment, it also marked a transition from a boy to a man and it probably helped a few choose a future job, training was free in any branch of the services. I would like to know, when National Service was around, whether we had the problems of youths on the rampage, football thuggery etc. National Service would also instil some respect – something sadly lacking in todays society.

We’ve gone from one extreme to another, society had rules, now the individual has his/own rules, perhaps the pendulum will stop at the middle and respect both society and the individual.

2 Bryan { 11.19.06 at 1:47 pm }

Minou, I’m one of those crazies who think that universal national service would help adolescents and society, and I do mean universal. There is something that everyone can do, even the disabled, and the shared aggravation helps to tie a nation together.

I don’t want it limited to military service. There are a lot of public jobs that need to be done other than shooting guns. It will do a lot of people a world of good to live in communal conditions with a cross section of the nation, as well as getting kids into shape with a little physical labor, and accurately measuring the educational level and health level of young adults.

3 oldwhitelady { 11.19.06 at 9:19 pm }

Your idea on universal national service sounds like a good idea.

4 Bryan { 11.19.06 at 9:40 pm }

It happens in other places, and I think it would give a lpt of people a break before college to decompress from school.