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My work takes a critical view of the importance of community for our youth to transition successfully from adolescence into adulthood. Our communities often fail us during the transition. Too many youths physically develop without ever reaching psychological maturity.
One part of the problem is the loss of meaningful rites of passage. A rite of passage rarely causes a shift from one distinct stage of life to the next. Much more often rites of passage only confirm or celebrate a life transition that has already been achieved by the individual, accomplished through years of steady developmental progress.
What happens between these life passages is considerably more important to the process of maturation than are the passages themselves. Maturing takes place gradually and adolescents need more help from our communities during this process.
Belonging to and having a sense of real community early in the development cycle is vital to the transition into becoming a mature adult. But, this is easier said than done, especially in our current egocentric, aggressively competitive, materialistic societies. But, this accomplishment lays the foundation for full maturity.
A healthy community can help an adolescent learn to know who they really are, where they stand, what they value, what they will accept, and what they will not accept.
Our world needs more mature mentors for our youth to grow into visionary artisans of cultural change, the new leaders who will guide humanity through the transformation that the greater community wholly depends upon. Mentoring our youth to succeed though adolescence is considerably more important than just providing them with rites of passage that confirm their success.