For male Australian Aborigines there is a traditional rite of passage in which they go on a personal journey in their adolescence where they live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months. It is known as the "Walkabout."
To the average Australian citizen this urge to go wandering without notice, and then reappear back to civilization when they so desire, is accepted as something inherent in the Aboriginal nature. But as one sociologist writes, "The actual reasons for going on walkabout may be more mundane: the Aborigines simply do not like to be under any societal controls, especially requesting permission to leave from their white employers." Even though the Walkabout is originally understood to be a deeply spiritual journey for the Aborigine; it also affords the Aborigine teen a great opportunity to exercise some personal independence & rebellion against Australian authority and the expected norms of society.
I like how the Walkabout is described on the popular movie"Crocodile Dundee": "It is an effort to satisfy one's itchy feet, a need to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, that space over the horizon...yes... something like that... you can't quite touch it so you have to go find it because it's you just know it's there...or maybe it just feels good to go walking around."
In America, for the last 30 or so years, the adolescent (ages 13-47 and rising!) rite of passage for both men and women is a "Walkabout" of the mind; I call it the "Whatabout?" Just as the Aborigine who physically and socially does not like to submit to civilization's restraints; the American adolescent mentally and morally does not like to submit to the traditional requirements and accepted standards of their parents, institutions, and God.
"Whatabout?" is when a person walks through a wilderness of thought, where the exception always becomes the rule. American adolescents don't like constricting principles or convictions that may limit their freedom -- so what they do is apply "Whatabout?" arguments to break down those restraints. Just like the quote from "Crocodile Dundee": "Whatabout?" is an "effort to satisfy one's" itchy mind...or more likely, they adopt it because, "maybe it just feels good..."
Let me show you what I mean...
* Don't you realize that abortion is the murder of an actual human being that is still growing in the womb of the mother? "Yeah, but WHATABOUT in cases of rape or incest? It's not murder but compassion."
* Don't you see the complications of having teen boys shower in the girl's locker room? That just isn't right! "Yeah, but WHATABOUT the transgender boy who has chosen to be a girl and feels more comfortable playing on the girls volleyball team? Shouldn't he be treated as the same as the other girls?"
* Don't you think having a gay boy scout leader sleeping in the tent with young boys is dangerous? "Yeah, but WHATABOUT his rights? Where else can he go to experience the wonder of the outdoors with his son? It isn't his fault he is gay?"
* Don't you realize how much scrutiny and attack the Holy Scriptures have endured over the years, and it still stands strong? Don't you think God has miraculously preserved his word? "Yeah, but WHATABOUT the 'Gospel of Judas' or the 'DaVinci Code?' They offer some unique takes on the person of Christ that you won't hear in the average church? We have to give them equal wieght, don't we, even if it does question the validity of the Bible?"
* Don't you know that the majority of the world's violent terrorists, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, are mainly influenced by a literal reading of the Koran and the Islamic World's contempt for the West? "Yeah, but, WHATABOUT the long sordid history of the Christian Crusades? Who are we to criticize and complain how the Muslim world wants to live out their religious convictions?"
Implementing "Whatabout?" thinking allows a person to live in a state of vague and fuzzy understanding. But even more importantly, this kind of thinking gives people the confidence to exercise dangerous sexual and moral license as they ignore truth. "Whatabout" is a deflection tool that lets me live as I want, how I want, without letting anyone or any law to put limits on my freedom. It truly is taking a walk into intellectual wilderness where reason, logic and the brilliant minds and opinions of the past cannot be allowed to penetrate.
To tell someone in the middle of their "Whatabout" that their action is sinful, dangerous, or foolish is usually met with a callous smile and a "who cares?" attitude that's looks on you as a crusty old remnant of a by-gone era.. You are an uncool person that is woefully out of touch and definitely out of your right mind.
The strange thing about people in "Whatabout" they all seem to think the same. I recently visited the "Rock the Vote" website that is 'trying to get out the youth vote to the polls. Fusing pop culture, politics, and technology, Rock the Vote works to mobilize the millennial voting bloc and the youth vote, protect voting rights, and advocate for an electoral process and voting system that works for the 21st century electorate.'
Here is their byline: "We're smart, we're passionate, we're badass!" In their recent video Lil John was campaigning for legalization of marijuana use by smoking a huge joint aimed at teens.**(to see the utter foolishness click the bottom address.)
Sounds fair and unbiased, doesn't it? Not quite. It is loaded with artist and celebrity supporters who could care a less about a culture that is intellectually and morally becoming a wasteland. Seriously what kind of agenda do you think Lady Gaga, Madonna, Maroon 5, Soulja Boy, Beyonce, Katie Perry, The Crystal Method and Beastie Boys care about? "You've got to fight for your right to parrrrrty?" Just what I want my kids to go out and vote for! Yeah, right.
What we need to teach our adolescent teens is that maturity isn't the freedom to do what you want, but it is exercising restraint over the freedoms that will kill you. And restraint always begins in the mind, so stop letting the "Whatabout?" logic from destroying those you love.