At an international seminar held in Australia, Aboriginal speaker Eddie Kneebone explained the sense of importance his people were able to impart to their children when they still lived “in the old way on their land”. A feeling of insignificance or despair leading to suicide – all too common today among young adults – was unlikely then because of a unique custom:

At a certain predetermined time, a young person would be solemnly entrusted with a secret piece of knowledge-information that could prove vital to the tribe’s survival. It might be the location of a hidden waterhole in one area of their territory. It might be the medicinal powers of a certain plant. No one else in the tribe would be given that piece of important knowledge and when the time came, this young person would be expected to contribute it for the welfare of all.

“Imagine,” concluded Eddie, “what a sense of importance and belonging this custom gave our young people. Each of them had a unique place, each had an undeniably important role to play. Self-esteem and a sense of personal worth were the great benefits of this Aboriginal custom-long before any psychologist told us about these elements of healthy growth!”

Source: Reported in Catherine Hammond, Stories to Hold An Audience

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