In 899, the third year of the Coming of the Order, the (First) Order suggested the establishment of certain laws, one of them being the introduction of adult licenses. Before this time, anyone on the Land who was at least 13 years of age was allowed to vote in any local elections or referenda. However, this was becoming somewhat problematic, particularly for the ultimate (as yet hidden) goals of the Order, and so they wanted, for the first time in the Land's history, to officially established when and why to consider a person an adult, so that only adults might be allowed to vote (though there were other reasons, as well, as would be seen later). No one had any idea how to determine the onset of adulthood, in any sort of standardized way. Everyone agreed that adulthood implied a certain degree of maturity in various categories, but that everyone matured at their own pace. It was about this time that some people began to grow suspicious of just how much influence the Order had been having in recent years on new developments in public policy, all over the Land. For now, the Order backed off... this turn of events had been entirely expected and accounted for within their Plan. The seeds had already been sown for the public to come to its own conclusions about various matters, one of them being the subject of adulthood. And so it was decided that when a person turned 13, they would be given a card, with their name, date of birth, description, and a few such bits of information. Also on the card would be places for four stamps.
A stamp for physical maturity would be given by a physician when it was determined the individual had entered puberty. Of course, for some this happened up to a few years prior to receiving the card, and for some, a bit later. Although in some cases, an individual (upon consent of his or her parents or legal guardian(s), or even themselves, if they had no guardians) might appeal to be granted a card early, if he or she was granted a maturity stamp (usually physical, but not necessarily) before turning 13.
A stamp for mental maturity (or rather educational maturity) would be given by a master when an apprentice had learned a trade; this would be altered somewhat in 904, with the establishment of centralized schools, including a curriculum of various courses by various masters. Upon successful completion of the entire curriculum, most importantly but far from exclusively including a primary chosen trade, each student would receive a stamp from the school's headmaster. Some masters would refuse to teach in these schools, and some of them might still receive apprentices. The (Second) Order would allow them to grant mental stamps, though because the public was beginning to look somewhat disdainfully upon anyone who received an education from a single master, most parents sent their children to schools, and many masters who refused to teach in these Order-run establishments were forced to fall back on plying their own trade rather than teaching it, or else simply failed to find any work at all, and became street rats.
A stamp for emotional maturity would be given by psychotherapists. This stamp was not particularly difficult to obtain. One basically just had to convince the psychotherapist that they were sane, which was the assumption going into therapy, anyway. It was perhaps a bit more complicated than that; more than a simple matter of sanity, a therapist had to believe the individual was developing emotionally in a reasonably healthy manner. A person could have some emotional problems, even, but if it seemed clear that they could deal with it, that they had a firm grasp of reality, life, the world at large, and could keep everything in its proper perspective... Well, it's hard to explain precisely what they were looking for. Psychotherapy is far from an exact science, and each therapist may look at things differently, as well as looking at each person as an individual, and not so much expecting them to fit some preconceived notion of a pattern, or standard of behavior or outlook. It was all done on a case by case basis. Complicated, in a way, but still simple. Few people ever failed to obtain their emotional stamp. However, the stamp could be revoked at any time, again by a psychotherapist (upon review by an oversight committee, so that no one therapist could wield too much power). There was also a law passed that no known gang members could bear an emotional maturity stamp, which meant that few gang members were legal adults. This led to some gangs hiring people for a position they called Adult, with a capital 'A,' in case the gang had any use for adult privileges, such as voting, etc. Most people weren't anxious to take such a position, and tended to have other occupations to fall back on. In fact being an Adult was mostly just done for extra cash, if desperately needed for some reason. Gangs considered their Adults precious commodities, and made every effort to ensure these employees were never discovered to be working for them.
A stamp for spiritual maturity would be given by spirit-talkers. This was probably the easiest stamp aside from the physical, to obtain. The Order allowed this stamp to be granted by spirit-talkers who were part of the (First) Order, the Protestants, or Independents, with the possibility (upon review) of extending the power to grant the stamp to any other religions, should any ever arise in the future. There wasn't much to it at all, really. Like psychotherapists, spirit-talkers were subject to a (secular) review board, in the event anyone was denied (or had revoked) their spiritual stamp, and wished to appeal the decision. But it was exceedingly rare for anyone to be denied this stamp, in the first place. In fact, no one was entirely sure, in the beginning, upon what basis a spirit-talker would ever possibly consider denying the stamp. Even if an individual swore allegiance to Lucifer rather than God, this was not necessarily grounds for denial, as most people on the Land never thought of there being much difference between the two. This opinion would come to change, years later, however....
It is also rather worthy of being mentioned that, while since the beginning of the Land, people had taken marriage as an intensely personal thing, the introduction of adult licenses had some small impact on this. As had always been the case, two people could, at any time, privately make their vows to each other, and later inform friends and family that they were now married. However, the Order now declared that it would not legally recognize any marriage unless both individuals had their physical and emotional stamps. This was of little concern to the general public, as they had no idea what business marriage was of the government's, anyway. It was not a legal matter, and it had no real affect on a marriage, whether the government recognized it or not. At least, not at first. In time, new laws would come to exist which would have an impact on marriages, but even then, it didn't matter much. There were still no such things as marriage licenses, or legal documentation of any kind, regarding these relationships. Besides which, it was quite uncommon for anyone to consider themselves married without these two stamps, anyway. It seemed perfectly reasonable to them all that people should be physically and emotionally mature before getting married, and indeed, couples had always tended to be mature in these ways before making such a decision about their lives....
back to reference section
All contents of this site © David A. Ward