The Jab: A Rite of Passage - Granite Grok

The Jab: A Rite of Passage

milestone marker 400

Having shown pictures of my late parents to my kids recently – my father died long before my current marriage and my mother got to hold her first grandchild for less than a year before she passed – I was reminiscing about her and how, for her 50th birthday, my father arranged a grand surprise party.

Masterfully kept secret – my mother had no clue – the massive gala with friends, family, and best wishes from around the world was a tremendous milestone celebration for her. I truly believe that the party helped ease her into accepting her aging past that point.

A few years ago I passed my own half-century mark. A much smaller event took place, with just a handful of selected friends who came to dinner at a local favorite restaurant. Regardless of the celebration’s size, it was an acknowledged milestone in my life, along with a sobering realization around that time that I am closer to the end of my life than the beginning.



A few months ago I saw an article in the Epoch Times about our society and how we’ve abandoned many milestone markers – Rites of Passage – for children and even adults as they move through life. It made me haul out my old album from my Bar Mitzvah.

I studied for a year for that with weekly lessons, rehearsing late into the night, etc., and that hard work paid off. I did not do the bare minimum as many other students did, but led the entire service after the first section and, except for the Mourner’s Kaddish, took the entire Shabbat service post-Torah-reading through to completion. Multiple comments were fed back to me on my skill, poise, and knowledge, and… it was a milestone in my growing up.

I did not sleep-walk through it, nor did I slip-slide eek past it, but I had earned it. (Alas, I stubbornly refused to actually learn Hebrew which I deeply regret, and am working, on Duolingo, to rectify that – over 600 days streak!)

Likewise, my graduation from eighth grade and, subsequently, high school were also passages from one stage of life to another. As was graduation from college and then my first Master’s (my second Master’s Degree was done remotely and to this day I’ve never seen the campus).

Marriage, too, is a milestone event, as is the birth of each child. And for men specifically, marriage to a woman and its parallel realization that one is now no longer alone but bound to another is (usually) a calming and moderating concept… just as having children (usually) brings on a sense of protectiveness and responsibility that no other experience in life can match.

Each milestone is a notice that it is time to leave one stage and go to the next. This bible verse really captures the essence of a childhood-to-adulthood milestone and the shedding of childish things to become an adult:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Yet today, what rites do we have?  Few.



My Bar Mitzvah was my acceptance into full adulthood, at least in the Jewish community… and for years after I attended Shabbat services faithfully. I was part of a community surrounded by people that, on a faith basis, believed the same things I did. Even politically, to which I’ve alluded before, I was right there with the majority in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, Mass. I belonged.  I was asked my opinions on issues facing the Synagogue, more broadly Judaism, and I mattered to others.

The same for the neighborhood where I grew up. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone had everyone else’s phone number – which I learned as I occasionally got into trouble and my parents knew about it before I could get home to pre-spin the mischief. We’d have an annual summer street party with everyone mingling and circulating and trying the foods each household had prepared for the event.

Even though I was a definite introvert, I knew that if I rang any doorbell on my street needing help and someone was home, I’d get help. And in the course of my growing up, I helped others too.

I belonged.  I mattered. I was part of a community.



Graduations are now more events to garner presents & loot, not to mention the ritual alcohol (over)indulgence, than significant markers completing the end of a schooling period and a passage to the next stage. Few kids stay in their religious institutions to pray and help mentor younger kids.  And the moment kids get out of high school it’s off to college and, likely, a faraway planting after the degree is done. (Though, and I don’t have a citation, I did read that a majority of people do end up within 50 miles of where they grew up for their permanent home.  True for me.)

So now we scurry through our lives constantly late and distracted. We have no time for downtime, we have little time for prayers let alone more significant religious holidays, nor do we have scant time for actual family togetherness aside from formally scheduled events and mostly scuttle from one event to another as we gulp food and don’t even sit down to family dinners like we did when growing up.  And families, even at home, immediately dive into electronics.



People jump from job to job searching for more money or prestige or are pushed out at a fear that the C-Suite’s bonus might not be big enough… it used to be that one would build a whole career at one place but that’s done and gone for multiple reasons. Some of my best friends date from when I lived in the Midwest as we’re still in touch; I left that job circa 2000, and I can’t think of a person from a subsequent job that I’m still friends with absent my being there. In contrast, my late parents’ work colleagues were the majority at parties they’d host and parties they’d attend.

Marriage, for example, used to be a passage into the only institution where physical intimacy was socially acceptable.  Now, few indeed are the people getting married who have waited until that night, and many have had partners in the double-digits.  S*x with the spouse, let alone with multiple others in the past, is no stranger to most on that wedding night… and in many instances happens within the first few dates, if not the very first one rather than courting and wooing to get to that point.

And on and on and on. Whether religious institutions like Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or First Communions or other religious adulthood ceremonies, graduations, marriages, etc., they’ve been changed from being milestones to mere road bumps as we careen through life.  People used to grow up and live in a community surrounded by people known for years and decades – now, people move in and out with little fanfare. I may recognize and wave at most of my neighbors, but aside from the ones with kids, I’ve rarely actually talked with any of them (I remember our first Christmas in our current house when we brought home-made pies to our on-street neighbors – to their utter, albeit pleased, surprise).



So it’s no wonder that people are disconnected from belonging. All over, every time we go out, I see entire families silent with faces in phones. Kids in particular are noses-in-phones all day as pacifiers… handed their electronic drug from infancy to the detriment of their physical development:



And social:


(Isn’t that just the saddest picture?)

My own Synagogue has declining membership and attendance and there are multiple reasons, though some of it is their Leftist slide as I’ve talked with multiple families that have left. In general, religion is derided for a belief in a deity that cuts off Marx from his *cough cough* “rightful place,” and thus must be viewed with contempt – and is in pop culture:

The rising number of Americans who regard religion with contempt is but one symptom of this mindless assault on tradition. Religion is regarded as an impediment to advancing the kind of society that progressives seek to create, and it therefore is ridiculed by cultural elites.

As a former atheist for over two decades, I regret my role in that. ☹



As I said in Fear is the Mind Killler… people have been scared out of their minds for nearing two years, to the point where DREAD has taken over and supplanted any ability to examine things logically. We’ve been terrified, knowingly, deliberately, and – in more conspiratorial moments – I wonder if the pop culture has intentionally pushed being separated and being “on one’s own” to further that isolation, and thus we’ve been made even more susceptible. Certainly if not a knowing effort, the effect is there.

We are confused as to our place in life.  People drug up, not just with illegal drugs, but with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, and who knows what else. Extended family, once so critical to socialization and community, now becomes a phone call every week or so.  Confused, isolated, uncertain, and scared people are prime targets for cults and fad beliefs offering salvation.

And now comes The Jab.  The Sacrament. The savior of mankind. A needle stick or two and one belongs again to a community that is doing good in this world by stopping this evil plague. Doing your part in wearing the mask, in socially distancing, in getting the Jab makes you a good person – it makes you a part of the Covidian community, the one that’s getting praises from the enemedia and politicians and institutions.  It makes you matter.



A chance to belong again. To be part of something greater than yourself.  A chance to matter, to make a difference. And, Vanity again, a chance to show how virtuous you are.  The sin of EGO combined with the hardwiring to believe – a hard combination to resist.  Just read this article about cults and those who join them – and then look me in the (figurative) eye and say that doesn’t sound familiar with respect to Covidians.



“A problem well-stated is half-solved”

— Charles Kettering

Thus our problem presents itself vis a vis those we know: how do we “deprogram” someone, even people close to us who – theoretically – should be willing to listen, when they are not cut off from the cult but rather still submerged in the information flow constantly whispering at them that they are the good people, and we the bad?  When that information flow hammers that we are nuts, insane, “unscientific” and thus heretics to the new religion?  How do we re-ground adults living on their own?  How do we bring them back into their families, into religious institutions, when every voice around them is still clamoring for them to push tradition away?  Just like the Borg “Hugh” in I, Borg from Star Trek’s Next Generation, only when cut off from the collective to such persons start to reassert their individuality and “come home” to roots planted in their youth.

Absent that ability to isolate these cultists it’s a vexing, Gordian-knot-level problem, and I still pray there’s a non-violent solution even as I fear the coming avalanche.  Or, at least, we can pry those we care about loose from the Covidian cult.  But with – as one example – a German state telling supermarkets that it’s OK to exclude the unJabbed, with President Post Turtle’s relentless regulatory “workaround” to get OSHA to force employer compliance, governments around the world ignoring ever-more-strident protests by their peoples, and an enemedia relentlessly obsessed with continuing to drive fear and confusion, time is short.

As spicy time looms closer we may need to cut our losses and understand that they are now firmly in the enemy camp and will betray us even despite our prior ties.  Nibble around the edges if you can, but… focus on the asleep lions and forming alliances in meatspace.  I have started to reach out to local people on Gab who have said they live in my state, for example.