Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Broad Outline for Ruhi 5

Junior Youth. An entire book about working with junior youth, that "special group with special needs" who require "(c)reative attention...that will engage their interests, mold their capacities for teaching and service, and involve them in social interaction with older youth."

Now, before I look at the book, I just want to offer a bit of a rant, you know, because I can. It's "junior" youth. Not "pre" youth. "Pre" youth would mean that they are too young to be young. They are youth. I mean, we all know they're not quite in the same category as children anymore, for they are developing in ways that children haven't yet, but they are at the younger end of the youth category. Once things settle down in their bodies a bit, and they have begun to adapt to their new powers of both perception and reflection, then they are more distinctly youth. But for now, they are junior youth. And this group of not-quite-little humans is not based solely on age. That is why the Universal House of Justice said that they were "say, between the ages of 12 and 15". It's a rough guesstimate. It all depends on when their particular body begins changing. After all, their very brains are being re-wired. So please, don't stick your 10 year-old in a junior youth group unless they've already begun this very significant change within. I mean, unless there is nothing else for them. But please, parents, honour their own pace of development and don't get on some sort of ego-thing and say, "Oh, but mt child is special." It's not about you. It's about them, and their moving into awareness of the world around them, as dictated by their own individual body.

Ok. Rant over. Sorry about that. I'm just tired of seeing these junior youth groups that are actually being held back in their extremely important discussions by the presence of children, who are quite wonderful, but better suited to children's classes.

Oh, and for point of reference, at the time of this writing, my own son is 12. We were asked by some members of our community to put him in a JY program, but recognized that he wasn't ready for it yet. I mean, sure, maybe he was mentally capable of following the discussion, but really, the depth of questions dealt with in the interpersonal stuff was quite beyond him until very recently. Now, the questions he is asking my wife and I, and his own observations of the world around him are amply demonstrating that he is ready for the JY groups.

On to Book 5, Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth.

5:1, as you can imagine, sets the vision. But let's be clear, the vision is that of junior youth. We look at our vision for the group itself, as well as a healthy vision of youth. They make a clear distinction between how society. in general, sees them, and how we do. We see this age group as filled with such potential as to change the whole world. We recognize that they want to address injustices and help serve humanity. We see our role as helping them achieve that noble goal.

But 5:1 doesn't stop there. They also remind us that the transformation of the individual is not fully possible, nor complete, without the transformation of society, too. The vision of youth that they give us helps us gain a greater vision of the civilization of the future towards which we are all working.

When we get to unit 5:2, they go into more specific detail about the the training of junior youth, and add in a few warnings. They begin by talking about the actual changes that are occurring within the individual, and how they can be affected by those around them. They remind us of the dangers of the ego, and how we need to be careful to train the individual to rise to the heights of self-sacrifice and service to humanity, without giving rise to the ego. They also talk about various spiritual issues such as the concept of crisis and victory, and how that plays out in the individual. They talk about the effects of the social environment on the youth, and how we can help them to counteract the detrimental effects that it may have. But then, towards the end of the unit, they go into actual stories of real youth. They allow us to explore the motivations in these stories and help discover those "gems of inestimable value" that were described in Book 3. They conclude the unit with a reminder of our role, as animators, in the group.

5:3 deals with the actual books of the Junior Youth groups. They take a few excerpts from each book, and then add in a few relevant quotes from the Writings to help us explore some of the main themes in each of them. I could go into details here, but really, the unit is self-explanatory. A few exercises to help us maintain focus, and a few examples so that were familiar with the texts.

It's a remarkable book, dealing with a remarkable time in someone's life. And as we are all aware, it is this group that seems to be the key, in most communities, to helping open up the greater community to beauty of the Faith.

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