Coming of Age Ceremony

We are gathered here today to recognize the transition from childhood to adulthood of NAME.  Life is change.  It never stands still.  It does not like eternal shapes and forever forms.  It does not enjoy peace and quiet.  Birth, growth, decay, and death define its busy rhythms.  As living beings, we are always on the move.  We are always experiencing change.  We are always becoming different.

Your transition is not an easy time but we honor and applaud the decisions you have made so far and are encouraged you will continue to make wise choices in the future.  You are now entering a time of enhanced freedom but also of great responsibility.  You are now charged with accepting the consequences and decisions of your actions wholly and fully.

As you start on this new path of adulthood, continue to be secure in yourself.  Self-esteem is never a gift.  No one can bestow it upon you.  Self-esteem is the child of competence.  When you set a goal for yourself and work towards achieving that goal, you are on your way.  Mediocrity is easy, but it is also safe.  There is no risk involved to be part of the crowd.  There is no shame in failing, because it takes effort to risk failure.  But, there is no better feeling in the world than trying something new and being able to say, “I did it!”  You know that you accomplished a goal you set for yourself. 

There are those who will tell you that bravery means that you are not afraid.  Not so.  The definition of bravery is being afraid, but doing it anyway.  The competent person looks carefully at the risks, weighs the consequences and asks, “What is the worst that can happen?  What do I have to lose?”  If you can accept the consequences, then you have nothing really to lose.  It’s worth the risk and the rewards are so great.  Even with a failure, you have learned a coping skill and are better equipped to try again.   Attempting the unknown is exciting, mediocrity is boring and accomplishment will give you the self-esteem you need to like yourself.

Not only does this transition mean you are responsible to yourself, but now you are also responsible to others.  We welcome you into our community and know that you will uphold our ideals and be a welcome addition, caring for others and the world around you.  Humanism is a philosophy and philosophy determines your outlook and directs the way in which you choose to live your life.  They key word here is choice.  This means that the choices we make are our responsibility and that we accept the rewards as well as the consequences of our decisions.  In order to make a good decision, you must first look to yourself, then your family and then to your community.  Looking to the stars for answers will bring you no reply.  Wishing will bring you no closer to your chosen goals. 

But examining your options, asking questions of knowledgeable people and weighing the consequences, will enable you to achieve your goals.  The only thing in life, over which you have absolute control, is your behavior.  Only you can decide how to live your life.  Only you can choose to live your life with integrity and dignity.

Everyday we are tempted by things that will do us harm.  Every good choice has it’s opposite, that somehow seems so appealing.  Movies, television and even your friends, seem to glorify bad behavior.  It appears so easy to go along. What can it hurt?  What difference does it make?  Whom does it harm?  So often, we know when we’re choosing something wrong, but we do it because it feels good – for the moment.

Some of us hate to make decisions.  Decisions are so risky.  They may lead to failure.  They may sponsor embarrassment.  They may expose our fantasies.  Decisions burden us with responsibility.  They make us confront our freedom to choose.  They make us shoulder blame.  They make us apologize for our mistakes.

Avoiding responsibility may be unattractive.  But it seems so much safer than the risk of being wrong.  It seems much safer to find respectable ways to be irresponsible.  Our genes, our social conditions, our helplessness are comfortable excuses.  Gods, dictators, and bossy bosses are convenient blame takers even though we choose to forget that we consent to our own obedience.

Our lifestyle is defined by the way we make decisions.  Some of us prefer to be children, always pleading our innocence and dependency.  Some of us prefer to be adults, taking responsibility for our actions and confronting other people with the dignity of our self-esteem.

But, it takes great courage to stand up and say, “I won’t do this” or “I won’t permit this”.  The reward of making a moral decision is self-respect.  There is no greater gift to yourself.

You have shown great judgment in your life so far.  Saying no to the wrong things and yes to the right.  Continue to use your wisdom and compassion to make good, ethical choices in the future.

Your mother (parents) would like to honor your admirable choices and decisions you have made so far.  Would parent please come up?  Chance for parent to say something to child.

Youth is not so much a condition of the body as it is a state of mind.  Many people are old at eighteen, their curiosity chilled by fear.  Others are young at eighty, their perceptions warmed by the courage to love surprise.  Physical youth fades quickly, but the springtime of our mind lasts as long as we will it.  To find in each new event a teacher and to see in each new day the excitement of hope is never to grow old.  Wisdom is not the product of wintry age.  It is the special gift of the eternally young.