Tracker Pixel for Entry

A Three-Week Graduation Ceremony

Gadfly | April 30th, 2023

By Ed Raymond

When a Spear and a Boomerang Equals a Computer and a Smartphone

Eighteen years ago I wrote a column “Graduating for Life” about Australian aborigine teenagers at age 13 either dying during their graduation ceremonies or surviving the dangerous environment and becoming an adult in their tribe.

With the battles about the role of parents in the education of their children roiling millions of teachers and administrators in school districts and universities presently, I am using most of the old text and then commenting on what constitutes a basic education.

The first step in his graduation “Walkabout” is painful circumcision and a purification ceremony usually involving fire. Then one of his front teeth is knocked out. It is a double sign of beauty and bravery in his culture.

After these initial rites, he is given a spear and a boomerang and wearing a loincloth, taken to a remote spot, and told not to return to the tribe for three weeks. With just these two tools he must find his food and water.

If he doesn’t return to the tribe in three weeks, he has failed his lessons in a harsh climate and area. He is considered to be dead. His parents are blamed for failing to teach him arts of survival and are cast out of the tribe for a time.

If he returns on time, he completes the graduation ceremony, is declared an adult, and shares in the leadership decisions of his tribe.

Here Are a Few of the Lessons He must Learn to Survive in Australia

First, the graduate must know history. There are approximately 500 tribes and a counted 948,000 aborigines in 2021, or about 3.8% of the population. He must know who his friends and enemies are. There is an East-West conflict among the tribes. If he trespasses on another tribe’s land, he may be killed in battle for his trespass.

Second, he must know his geography and political science to carry on trade. He has to understand the culture of the white man so he can avoid confrontations. Over 200,000 aborigines were murdered in the 1800s—for sport, land, and power.

Third, he must know his biology and zoology. He lives off the desert, so he is extremely careful of his environment. There is no waste and he must leave something for growth. Most white men marvel at the ability to live in a country where nothing edible or drinkable is in sight.

Fourth, he must study language. There are over 700 dialects in the Australian culture, but no writing. The young person must learn to communicate in hundreds of dialects. This is very similar to our culture, where teenagers come up with hundreds of new words each day. Sometimes the elderly have difficulty communicating with the young.

Fifth, he must develop his physical skills with the boomerang and the spear. He spends more time with the spear than our javelin throwers because his life depends upon it, not a medal on an Olympic stand.

Sixth, his course in family relationships must be thorough. In order to keep warm at night the aborigine family curls into a family ball around the fire. The kid who leaves the family ball during the night, thus breaking the coil of body heat, is in serious trouble, much like our teenagers who break the family ball and run away from home.

The “Civilized” White Family Meets the Aboriginal Family

They may appear to be the most wretched people on earth, but in reality, they are far happier than Europeans and Americans.

The entire possessions of an aborigine family weigh less than 20 pounds: two rubbing sticks to create fires, two knife-shaped stones, one container of dried worms for protein and snacks, one boomerang, one spear, a spear thrower called a woomera, and a few baskets and wooden bowls.

Their diet is simple. Insects, kangaroos, worms, birds, snakes, and rabbits are staples. Locating water in desert-like conditions is always a serious problem. Aborigine families will follow clouds for days hoping for a quick shower. If the clouds do not release water, aborigines will sometimes calmly dig their own graves and lie down in them and die.

Almost all tribes in Australia do without the following: metals, bow and arrow, pottery, wheels, arithmetic, and writing. They do not farm.

The aboriginal culture is one that welds and melds man, nature, art, belief, and life and death together. Thought itself can be very powerful. If an aborigine points a human fibula at a victim, the person may pine away and die.

Most of the tribes have artists who have left thousands of artistic images on rocks and in caves in 60 areas where they have lived for thousands of years. This is great evidence that they have time to dream and to ponder instead of full-time survival.

A “civilized” person in the same terrain needs a four-wheel drive vehicle, extra fuel and water tanks, food for twice the expected stay, two spare wheels and tires, an extra battery, tools of all kinds, medicine, cooking gear, fly and mosquito nets, maps, compass, radio, and countless other possessions. After all, he is an educated man.

Our High School Walkabouts Are Very Different Today—And Yet Much the Same

The Australian aborigine faces death during his three-week walkabout, but so does our U.S. high school senior walkabout in his three-week graduation ceremony. He may die by drug overdose, driving while drunk, from a successful suicide, or the present leading cause of death for children---a firearm at a party, or at the mall, or at a church.

If today’s graduates do not learn the real history of their time, they will make the same mistakes their ancestors made in the past. If they don’t learn the language and know how to write it they won’t be able to communicate with their society and relate to other people.

If our walkabouters have not learned what beauty and ugliness is, whether in art, music, literature, or life, their lives will be barren and frustrating.

So although our two societies are separated by thousands of miles and vastly different cultures and environments, and by the essentials of a “primitive” society as compared to the glitter, greed, and grandiosity of a “modern” society, the basics are somewhat the same.

Even in aborigine tribes there are philosophical differences and in our “tribes” economic differences where more than 60% of workers are living paycheck to paycheck.

In “The Great Australian Outback” an anthropologist describes an exploratory trek across 4,000 miles of desert and wasteland. His staff figured out it would take about 20 tons of vehicle equipment, food, fuel, and other supplies for each “civilized” man involved in the complex exploration.

As the expedition got under way, members noticed an aborigine trudging a parallel course. He had a spear, boomerang and loin cloth. When asked by a member who knew his dialect what he was doing, he said: “I’m going with you.” He completed the same journey by walking the trail of the expedition, but never asked for food or help.

The explorers used up their ration of 20 tons per man, while the aborigine enjoyed the luxury of his loincloth.

Education Will Determine Whether We Have a Third Reich or a Democracy

Adolf Hitler started the Hitler Youth in 1926, knowing he needed to start with the young if he would succeed in establishing the Third Reich to last a thousand years. When named chancellor of Germany in 1933, he immediately nationalized the public schools, restricted the private schools, burned the old textbooks, approved new Nazi-approved “textbooks” and materials, and required every class to start with a loud “Heil Hitler!”

He divided the members of Hitler Youth into two groups: boys and girls of 10-14 and 15-18. The older group of boys went through military basic training for four years while the older girls were taught how to become attractive women who would raise Aryan children to become good Nazis to lead the Third Reich. Ages 10-14 were spent being indoctrinated and groomed with Nazi philosophy while being seduced by uniforms, swastika flags, badges, weapons, and heroic stories about Hitler and his henchmen. Hiking, swimming, singing around a fire, and camping were emphasized during the summer months.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis evidently has studied the real history of Nazi Germany because, by using Hitler’s methods, he wants to turn the United States into the Florida he is desperately trying to turn into another Third Reich. The Republican legislature is passing every cruelty that he throws at them. He has Oval Office and Reichstag ambitions. He is trying to turn Florida children into DeSantis Youth.

DeSantis is a Yale and Harvard Law School graduate with the charisma of a rabid Doberman. As a legal “advisor” at our “black” prison at beautiful Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, he added to his reputation as Vlad the Impaler by laughing at an Afghan “detainee” who was being tortured in a forced feeding program by a smiling American psychologist.

A Fellow Republican: “I Think He’s an Asshole. He Doesn’t Care about People.”

DeSantis served three terms in the House of Representatives and had a reputation of not caring a crap about other Republican reps.

Former Republican Representative David Trott of Michigan said this about Mr. Charisma: “I sat right next to DeSantis for two years on the Foreign Affairs Committee. I go to my first committee hearing early and DeSantis showed up right at the gavel time and didn’t say hello or introduce himself. And then the next hearing, the same thing happened. I think the third time it happened, I thought, ‘Oh, this guy’s not ever going to say hello to me’.” Eventually Trott introduced himself: “He’s just an arrogant guy, very focused on Ron DeSantis. In short, I think he’s an asshole. I don’t think he cares about people.”

One of my favorite columnists, Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, knows an asshole when she spots one: “Even in a world made crueler by social media and Donald Trump, DeSantis seems mean,” punching out at Mickey Mouse, immigrants, gays and women; pushing through an expansion of his proposal to ban school discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity to include all grades, as well as a draconian ban on abortion after six weeks.

For many reasons, he reminds me of two other people. One wore a moustache, screamed into microphones, castigated Jews, homosexuals, the mentally and physically handicapped, and ended up being responsible for a world war that killed between 60 and 80 million people.

The other one is diagnosed as a malignant narcissist asshole who cares more about his golden hair in the wind than five children he fathered with three “trophy” women. He loves only himself and anything with his name on it, such as golf courses, towers, and steaks.

With his oft-displayed cruelty, bigotry, cowardice, ignorance, greed, and prevarications, he has soiled the fairways, byways, and education systems while poisoning bipartisanship in government.

He destroyed the idea of the common good and turned the entire country into gutters with OK Corrals. Trump has added cruelty, bigotry, racism, greed, and lying to the national mores.

Remember: If you ban books, you will eventually burn them, along with the readers.

Recently in:

Alicia Underlee A midnight wedding ceremony at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead on August 1, 2013 was more than a romantic gesture. Eighteen couples made history on that day by exchanging vows in the…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Our opinion: Has Fargo lost its cool?By Sabrina On April 24, The Forum reported that Zandbroz Variety would be closing its doors after 33 years, and the announcement hit like a ton of books. Upon hearing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comIs It Possible to Move from a Tent on a Sidewalk to a Garage in the Sky? There have been wealthy people who added a car elevator to the mansion for their Bentleys so they could unload groceries…

By Rick Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

By John Musicians in the Fargo-Moorhead area are often supportive of each other. They will attend each other’s shows, collaborate on projects, play as openers for each other, so on and so…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

By David L. If your Spidey senses are tingling, it may be because Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross is coming to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The traveling exhibition, developed by the Bess…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim I am an old man. I have been a politics junkie most of my life. I have been involved in many campaigns, but have not run for office myself. Each time someone has suggested I do that, I tell them…