Once upon a time I was a teenager. I didn’t receive much of the necessary guidance needed to become a part of the society around me. I am at an age now when too many people cluck their tongues at the thoughts, actions, and reactions of teenagers trying to establish themselves into a community. News Flash – teenagers have always been confused and in need of guidance to become a productive part of their family, tribe, community, or society…Always.
I lived in Cleveland, Ohio, for about twelve years, and often in parts of the city where the ravages of the Rust Belt were most evident. One of my students who lived near me told me this story during an informal student-teacher meeting concerning the declining quality, quantity, and timeliness of her work.
The block this student lived on had been home to a bit of a feud between two neighborhood mothers. Mother-A had a daughter who was known as a witty, daring, charismatic, skipper of classes and was suffering the consequences of her action. It seemed a perfectly normal story since several of her extended family members were ex-cons, small-time drug dealers, drop-outs, and all lorded over by a single mother on several assistance programs, descended from a welfare mother, descended from a… You get the picture, I hope.
Mother-B’s daughter was a casual friend of my student. Daughter-B was studious, ambitious, and conscious that an education was her only way out of her dangerous neighborhood. My student told me that Mother-B’s daughter was a bit of an outcast…trying to be “too white” according to people like Mother-A’s daughter. My take on this was daughter of Mother-A saw daughter of Mother-B as a threat…what if she succeeded in life? This would invalidate all her excuses for not being studious, ambitious, and getting out of her dangerous neighborhood. The feud was problematic, with daily insults, squabbles, vandalism, and physical altercations. Mother-B decided that a change was called for, and moved her family a couple of blocks away to a new home.
Mother-A took this as very poor form…an insult to her daughter, and, I imagine, to her especially. She informed her daughter that they were going to visit Mother-B and her daughter and “set things straight” in her own special way. To make a long story shorter, Mother-A gave her daughter a straight razor, had a brother and a cousin stand guard at Mother-B’s gate while she hustled her daughter into the yard and onto the porch where Mother-B was hustling her children indoors. Not quickly enough. Daughter-A proceeded to slash away at Daughter-B, with guidance and encouragement from Mother-A.
Daughter-B is scarred for life now, psychologically, physically, and sociologically. Mother-A did a short stretch, while Daughter-A did her first piece of change in a juvenile detention program, and will eventually do some time. Acculturation is an important part of being locked up, and it carries back to the street when offenders are released, becoming a Red Badge of Courage, so to speak…an initiation rite.
All groups, from a family to a nation, have certain requirements for members to move from one period of their life to another – the most important of these being the initiation rites of teenagers. They are the future, people say so often, probably not really understanding the weight of that statement. Roles change with age and accomplishment, and if those roles are rejected or neglected, the person in question would be abandoned, ostracized, exiled, or be so diminished they would wander away on their own, much to the groups advantage.
Where these rituals don’t exist, they will be invented or re-invented by those in need, or those who are looking to take advantage of that need. This is often seen as an abomination of culture and propriety by those who have passed their group’s initiation rituals. Recently in Boston two teenagers took part in an initiation rite proscribed by a group they wanted to earn favor with…or they were poorly used by their elders who understand the importance of initiation rituals to teenagers struggling for an identity.
Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsamaev were given an initiative education, I hear. Word around the campfire is that they were both involved in the Sharia schooling offered by our friends the Saudi Arabians. If this is true, this is the war of the future…not over border disputes, lust for land and resources, or a personal rivalry between leaders. It’s a War of Ideas and Religious Philosophy started and urged on by religious fanatics from both sides. We are as doomed as the Tsamaev Brothers.
How do these schools of intolerance and hatred operate? The Saudi Arabian government is one of the main promoters. How could a desolate country fund and promote such ideas of self-righteous, destructive and bloody mayhem? The answer is simple…there is a lake of oil beneath their desert kingdom, and there are so many Petroleum Addicts in the world they will never run low on cash, and they will never suffer for their actions. Who assisted Usama bin Laden‘s family out of the United States after 9-11? You must know who…George W. Bush and his White House full of Oil Gang initiates. And this ties a lot of people to terrorism…me, you, and just about everyone we know.
Our addiction to Petroleum has corrupted our government, brought rage, turmoil, death and destruction to areas of the world who serve as our dealers, and the last thing a junkie wants to do is piss off their dealer. And, before anyone starts trying to deny or justify their addiction to Petroleum, try kicking that addiction to the gas pump. I know…I know…we all live in a world where people live in one place, work in another place, drive their children across town to better schools, and find recreation a few dollars worth of Petroleum products away. But, that’s all about convenience, the desire for upward mobility, and often signs and symbols of status. We all have our priorities, wants and desires in mind when we undertake certain actions, and if those priorities, wants and desires run up against a cold, hard, and deadly reality…then rationalize…deny…just like any good addict has to learn to do to maintain self-righteous dignity.
None of us want to deny ourselves the life of convenience we have become accustomed to, so we’ll keep on using…and we will ignore the harsh and deadly actions of our dealers. I am guilty, and I’m not going to deny it. I am not going to join the Amish, and neither is anyone who reads this, so we PAY the dealer, FEED the addiction, and blame the consequences on the insanity of others.
I expect nothing but outraged indignation, stretched justifictions, and angry reaction to this post. It’s how all addicts react when faced with the consequences of their addiction. If you’ve read this far you are on your way to recovery, or are just looking for a box to leave a hate comment in. Whatever…