When does a boy become a man? At puberty? When he fathers a child? When he can provide for himself? When he can support a family? Or is it simply, when he turns 21? In the Old Days a knight in training could not become a full fledged warrior, until age 21 when he would he be strong enough to fight in heavy armor.
Young males have a tendency toward action, athleticism and violence. In primate troops the older males sleep with the females and young males stay up all night and guard the group from predators. The younger the male, even among humans, the more sexually potent, active and reckless. They make good warriors whether in a traditional band of humans or in the armed forces of an established society. And since most males, be they in a band of primates, a traditional society, or an army engaged in protracted warfare, do not survive, sexual potency of very young males is essential for the survival of the group.
However, in America today only a small percentage of young men go into the armed forces. And so what happens to their superabundance of energy? There are organized sports and informal athletic contests. However, many join gangs wherein they emulate the behavior of young men in traditional bands. However, today there is no hunting of dangerous, big game animals or the need to protect the group from predators or other groups of hostile males.
However, where the social fabric is frayed or broken, one sometimes finds warring bands of youths, as was the case in much of urban America up until the late Twentieth century. However, these gangs engaged in ritualistic warfare. They would decide, beforehand, to use fists, sticks or chains and deaths were rare. However, today we see bands of young men armed with guns using them on each other. This type of behavior is glorified and sustained by the mass meda in carefully packaged and choreographed mayhem to generate a cruel, deadly self-fulfilling prophecy.
The majority of young males in America attend college; there many join fraternities to engage in rituals reminiscent of initiation rites in traditional societies. But these activities very rarely end in death, and in four years they graduate with a “bachelor’s degree.” A young man with a degree is now an eligible bachelor, one equipped with the knowledge and skills to support himself. Many go on to a attain a Masters (becoming full-fledged Misters) signifying a substantial ability to support a family and become a fully integral member of society.
The challenge we face is to get more of our youth headed down the right track to become modern men, and women, in post-industrial society, steering them away from the dead end violence and dead end jobs the establishment is hell bent on getting them to accept. Everyone need not go to college. But everyone needs to be able to read on a college level and understand basic math. Otherwise you are much more likely to fall prey to the pitfalls this society has put in place, especially, to ensnare Black youth.
By; Dr. Arthur Lewin