Thank You for Initiation into the Small Tribes

One of the oldest rituals is the initiation ritual.

Some religions and social groups have elaborate rites and ceremonies to bring in the sheaves from the fields of Humanity.

Others are very subtle. A person may not even notice they are being initiated until they are face to face with the Grand Poobah of our tribe.

We introduce people to family and friends, keeping a close eye on their response and the reception of other members.

We test people for endurance and extract information to assess viability of newcomers into our clan, neighborhood, clique, group, or family.

We seem to like folks who are like us, but even if they look different than us we like to think they are willing to do what we will do to be a part of our tribe.

We are clannish, us humans. We like to stick together. Yet, we like to make it challenging to be a part of our tribe.

There are dues to pay, trust to establish, commitments to make.

Fraternity hazing is an initiation. Being baptized is an initiation. Marrying the Farmer’s daughter is an initiation.

Paying club house dues comes in many forms—some of them are not so obvious to the initiate.

A social initiation can be established and tribal bonds tied with some very interesting threads or dues to prove worthiness.

Do you know of any tribes that incorporate these initiation rituals?

Suffer for us 

Suffer with us

Give us your stuff or money

Conform to our beliefs, superstitions, ideas, or behaviors

Bring us a present or an offering

Pee on your motorcycle jacket and wear it to a dangerous bar

Beat up one of our enemies

Learn our complex secret codes and never speak of them again

Eat something strange like a drug, a goldfish, or horse meat cooked in the tradition of our family

Play Truth or Dare

Shed blood, sweat, or tears for the sake of us

Smoke this cigarette and don’t tell Mom

Kill some guy named Vinny

Start out as our slave and struggle your way to being our boss.

redress yourself to look like us

Buy stuff that we buy

Be an individual, just like us

There, now you’re in!

~ by leakelley on September 3, 2011.

5 Responses to “Thank You for Initiation into the Small Tribes”

  1. Isn’t it interesting so many people who are willing to feel a part of something and in sense lose a part of themselves?

  2. Interesting and timely. As a convenience store owner I believe I play an important part in initiating our young. I have introduced many a fresh faced youth to their first taste of beer, their first cigarette and other important rites of passage. As I am fond of saying “it takes a convenience store to raise a child.”

  3. There is a growing & I propose already conclusive body of evidence that both the quality & individuality of people’s hearts & minds flourish in societies that are structured to prevent rather than allow or increase citizen anxieties. If one knows from birth to death that one’s fellow humans will not allow one to be abandoned & forgotten, destitute, homeless, ill without guarantee of the best medical care, compelled to fall out of the middle class because of misfortune or bankruptcy, or denied the most education one can achieve, then one lives longer, is happier, is less reliant on impotent belief that salvation comes from gods, is more kind, is not easily given to violence, is more trusting, is not able to be manipulated by media, politicians & preachers who promote fear & hate, & all that is good & best in them is free to bud & blossom.

    This is, of course, what you say, Ms. Kelley, in your captivating & oft ironic fashion, over & over again, to more delight than my words gather or are intended to receive.

  4. This is so well put together, and you covered all of it. I can’t think of anything to add, either in examples, or in feeling. You captured it.

    Maybe there is a reason I have never been much of a joiner or group person.

  5. i just KNEW we couldn’t trust that guy, after we couldn’t get him to pee on his jacket.

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