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Mentoring - Commentary
Volkhvy - 12 / 29 / 2002
RE: Regarding Mentoring
Right now, we've (Robin, Maggie, George, and I) got a group meeting every other Thursday, for Mentoring Elders. It's open to anyone who thinks they need this kind of thing, and is willing to put the necessary time and effort into it. Currently, it takes about two years to cycle thru the material.
As for Guarantees...
First, Mentoring Elders is for people who are already elders or about to become elders within their community. If they can't stand up and say, "Just a gods-damn minute..." whenever they hear something that contradicts their experience, maybe they're not ready to be an elder. I not only expect discussion and dissention, I demand it; the same can be said for the other elders involved.
Anybody can leave at any time; we're not holding a gun to their heads. There are no dark secrets and dread, binding oaths. This is all publicly available material, for anyone willing to seek it out. The only thing vaguely unique about it is the way it's organized. This is just a different world-view, an alternative paradigm; if you've got a better one, go for it!
Mentoring Elders is being run as a group. (Not that that's any guarantee of integrity; look at Nazi Germany, or any fundamentalist seminary...) Even though I'm nominally "in charge," I'm here to learn, as much as any other member of the group. That's how this has grown from 17 to 55+ topics. Everyone's input is valued and examined for integration and incorporation. New ideas are constantly being incorporated into the body of this, and old ideas are always being re-examined for validity. It's a dynamic work that reflects the current understanding of the total group, not just a single individual.
Mentoring Elders is designed to help people learn how to think for themselves. It's self-perpetuating and self-correcting. It doesn't rely on the charisma of an individual; it stands or dies on its own inherent value. It actively promotes debate and re-evaluation of values. It also helps develop critical thinking in the particpants.
Mentoring Elders is public; it's available to anyone who's interested. In fact, as paradoxically as it may seem, the main reason it's copyrighted is to keep it in the public domain. Now, no-one can claim it and say, "The only way to get it, is thru me." You'll just have to trust in my integrity on this... Towards keeping it public, I've made it readily available to anyone who wants to download and use it.
When in doubt about a new mentor, use the Advanced Bonewits' Cult Evalution Frame. It can give you a pretty accurate evaluation of who you do, or don't want to learn from. After all, you're an adult, you have experience; use it! If your mentor starts acting in a shady or an untrustworthy manner, walk away! Trust is one thing, excessive gullibility is another...
Finally, the main purpose of Mentoring Elders is to form and maintain stable communities through the creation of a group of elders who are mature, responsible adults. The information contained in it is already being misused by the dominant culture to fragment and control people and cultures. Mentoring Elders is an attempt to re-channel these forces into healthy, socially constructive forms. To form community, you have to trust someone. So, who's it going to be?