The Role of the Elder

Elders are disappearing all over our planet. Men that use to carry the eldership of the tribe or community are now alcoholic, in major depression, committing suicide, or on golf courses - or all the above.

Our crisis is understandable. It is clear what is going on and why. No longer do we have a problem about figuring it out. But this is not recognized. On the contrary, we have all these people in leadership positions in every walk of life - especially those who have to do with the legal system, criminology, and public administration - who think they can explain this crisis without any reference to male initiation or maturation. It is impossible. It cannot be done. You cannot even identify the problem without looking at male initiation, and you surely cannot fix it.

So what time is it?
It is a time when men have abdicated their responsibilities as elders wholesale. We have all these self-righteous men all over the country who want to put all the young warriors in prison forever and throw away the keys because the young warriors are criminals, "they cannot be helped." This is the situation we face: Men, so called men, who will not face their own shadows, will not face up to the reality of their abdication. They are willing to witness the destruction of the lives of thousands upon thousands of young males all over the world. That is where we are and that is what we face and that is what time it is.

What is needed?

A brotherhood, what used to be called an order. Now what kind of order do we need? We do not need another regressive, tribal masculine brotherhood. We do not need another SS. Why not? They were organized. They knew how to use technology. They knew how to get men committed unto death and how to make men proud. What was the problem? They had a racist, tribal, demonic vision. They made the fatal error that our forebears have repeatedly fallen into. For thousands of years we have not been able to make the unity of our species the basis of our vision. We have made the same mistake over and over. We have taken magnificent young warriors and offered them a bogus vision - a demonic, racist, non-inclusive vision to serve and die for.

We need magnificent young men, middle-aged men and older men serving a vision worthy of them. We need to take that Warrior energy, that which is very likely the most noble thing in the male soul, and bring it into the service of an inclusive, non-racist, non-sectarian, non-cultic vision about a world of justice and peace. We need to warn men against repeating the error of our forefathers in accessing wonderful masculine energy and then using it to serve a tribal, often racist, vision. In the United States, we have so many men today, fine men, who have been seduced into joining right-wing, racist militias. The only elders and guides they have are men who have no other vision except to repeat the errors of the past.

We need an international network of men to hold up a vision worthy of all these magnificent young males, red and yellow, black and white. We need to have that vision lifted up and nurtured. But we do not need to simply put out a vision. We need more than a vision. We need an order, a brotherhood, that is willing to do what is necessary to steward that vision and to provide the containment that is necessary for initiation into such a comprehensive vision.

We do not need an organization that simply provides a place for men to go through their mid-life crises and leave. Instead we need an organization which will take young men and power him up and introduce him to how magnificent he is and the nature of the male heritage which is his.

We need an organization that, when he hits the white water of life at forty, will have men in it that love him, and will help him understand what is happening to him.

We need an organization that, when he gets into his fifties and sixties and starts running into some health problems, will be there for him and will help him understand ways in which he is still strong, maybe even stronger than he was when he was physically strong.

We need an organization that will love men while he is dying and be there for him while he is dying. We need an organization that he trusts to carry on the work that he was committed to after he is dead and buried. We need an organization that will help that man's family bury him.

This is an inter-generational vision. Is this new? This is the way men used to do it. This is the way it used to be done in the tribes. And what do we need in order to offer such leadership for men in community? We need a group of men that know how important initiation is. That know what happens to men when they do not get it. A group of men that are doing their best to be inclusive across economic classes, across religions, across races - a new kind of warrior and potentially a new kind of brotherhood.

So the question is very simple. Could it be that you have a wider mission? Are you the man that we long for or shall we look for another? Are you that man who desires to be a man and be part of that Order - the inclusive Order, the non-racist Order, the non-classist Order, the non-sexist Order, the committed Order that we long for? An Order willing to steward an inclusive masculine initiation?

Could it be that in the twenty-fifth century, some elder historian is going to be telling stories, where he might say that it came to pass that in the early years of the new millennium a small band of men of different races, from different walks of life, woke up. They looked around and they saw what time it was, and knew how desperate the situation was, and how bad the odds were that they could do the work that needed to be done. Nevertheless, they said yes to the challenge. Children, though we cannot remember their names, we are eternally grateful to them.

Moore, R. (1997). Masculine Initiation for the 21st Century: The Global Challenge. The New Warrior Handbook.

Moore, R. (2001). The Archetype of Initiation: Sacred Space, Ritual Process, and Personal Transformation. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Corporation.

The Quartet of Books: The King Within, The Warrior Within, The Magician Within, The Lover Within.