In my autobiography I called for “a preferential option for the young” to be a value alongside that of a “preferential option for the poor.” Not only because the young are often poor, but also because adultism is a very clear reality in our times and spiritual poverty can prove to be more dangerous than material poverty.
To me, the latest news of the multiple murders of young people by young people brings up this issue all over again. And in a deep way. We grieve the loss of life. But we also need to ask: Why? Why are young people (95% boys) killing young people and others indiscriminately?
One issue is the lack of meaningful rites at puberty (no, confirmation as it is now practiced does not cut the mustard. Ask people, as I have over the years, if confirmation was a meaningful ritual for them.) As Malidoma Some tells us, in a society lacking in rites of passage, the young are confused and angry, the adults are bewildered, and the elders are missing.
We should bring both rites of passage for young people and rites of passage for elders alive and effective and meaningful. Too many elders are out of touch with their responsibilities and dignity as elders to interact with the youth and exchange wisdom and stories and values that can assist our species to survive.
What does the healthy masculine look like? What does it mean to be a (healthy) man?
What does the healthy feminine look like? What does it mean to be a healthy woman?
Do we really want to leave it to the media and consumer capitalism that drives the media to give us its version of consumer citizenship as the epitome of healthy adulthood?
That is one reason I turn to the mystics to teach me such important lessons. Lessons of our capacity for compassion and love of Gaia and forgiveness and eros (passion for living, love of life) and wisdom and relationship and interdependence from the feminine side.
And from the masculine side, lover of inner strength or virtue (from the Latin for “man”) and archeytpes of father sky, the green man, the blue man, the spiritual warrior, the hunter gatherer, generous fatherhood.
Healthy men and healthy women incorporate the sacred masculine and the divine feminine in themselves whether male or female, gay or straight or trans.
Teaching these values and realities would surely constitute a preferential option for the young. And might undo some of the bewilderment of the adults and the silencing of the elders.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond.
And Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Young men stand admiring the sunset. Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Which of these teachings do you feel most offer a preferential option for the young? Are they being taught in schools and homes and churches and temples and synagogues? How can that happen more effectively?
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond
Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.” –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God