Our Human Need for Ritual

Everyone values ritual. If you don’t believe that, allow a group of people to become accustomed to a procedure and then change it. At work. In your home. At church. Anywhere. People resist change because they value ritual.

But what makes ritual valuable? I heard something the other day that kind of answered it in a way I’d not thought of before.

The thing about ritual is that it…it…it tells an essential lesson.  It… it tells you things are same as they always were. The same as they always were, but different. You know, it’s like birthdays. ~Larry Harvey, “The guiding spirit behind Burning Man”

Maybe our love for ritual has some of its roots in our need for security.

At work. In the home. In church. Even at events like Burning Man.

4 thoughts on “Our Human Need for Ritual

  1. Chesterton rocks.

    One of the things that struck me on the Harvey statement was that many claim to object to “organized religion” because of its ritualistic nature. I would guess that many who participate in Burning Man would shun organized religion in favor of an experience they feel is more individualized. Yet here they are, drawn toward and engaging in a uniform ritualism.

    It’s like bikers who say, “I ride my Harley because I want to be different,” and then go out and buy the black leather jacket adorned with large silver zippers, the do-rag, the black pants, the boots, and the wallet-chain so they can look like everyone other biker.

    When people are free to do as they please, they will usually imitate each other. — Eric Hoffer

  2. As someone said about teenagers “They want to be different, just like all their peers.”

Comments are closed.