Maturity Is…

…being able to deal with making a choice, on some level more sophisticated than “which option do I like better.”

This is what the arguing is all about lately. Our country has just been wrenched through a sharp S-curve. We had a President who made a habit out of telling people the situation as he saw it, and to hell with whether they were ready to hear it or not; now we’ve got a President who’s spent His entire lifetime learning He can always win, as long as He acts confident and to hell with whether He’s telling people what’s true, as long as it’s what they want to hear.

That is why there is so much arguing lately and why it is so heated. When you lack maturity, you have the luxury of defining truth according to taste. This causes strong antisocial feeling because, necessarily, it must mean anyone who says anything contrary must be a liar.

There are still quite a few people walking around who think the previous President lied about everything. Of this, alone, I cannot begrudge them. President Bush was a politician; diagnosing politicians, especially politicians representing opposing parties and movements, is something we all do pretty much all the time.

The way they decided he was a liar, however, all too often was something like this: I don’t like what he’s saying. It makes me unhappy. That makes him a liar.

What was he saying? The world is always going to be dangerous and unstable, until such time as the Saddam Hussein problem is addressed, head-on, militarily.

If you lack maturity — maturity, the way I’m defining it here — of course that’s a lie. It isn’t soothing. Doesn’t fill you with happy thoughts head to toe.

If you’ve acquired this maturity and made it your business to deal with things the way they really are, it’s a big fat DUH.

The reason it seems lately we can put so much effort into problems that really aren’t that complicated, and continue to see success elude us, is that there are a lot of people who lack maturity. It just isn’t required of us that often. We’ve got fewer and fewer people working for a living, and those among us who are fortunate enough to work, all too often are simply following instructions. The “quality” of what we do is determined entirely by how well we’ve followed the steps. So engaging reality, in addition to being frightening, is becoming a dying art.

Lately, even people who’ve worked themselves into that ultimate level of independence, running their own business, are occasionally found to lack this maturity. Think, as a consumer, how many products and services you buy — and after they’re delivered, you have the final word on whether they’re adequate or not. This is a metric caught in a steep decline. Hamburgers are built the way they’re built; if you like them, oh that’s fine, but that’s because you happen to like the burger the way they build them here. Nobody had to approach you, find out what you want in a burger, and put some real thought into how to fulfill the requirements you had in mind.

The same is true of cars. Even houses. This house is built this way because that’s the way they build ’em here, now do you like it or not?

So the result is a society filled with craftsmen, and their employees, who just follow steps.

Any given human ability that is difficult to maintain, will fade just so far and then bounce back if it is required. This one, sad to say, isn’t. And so I see parents trying to teach their children to make choices that will turn out to be the right ones…how to decide things. And they make the mistake of saying “do you like this one or do you like that one?” The child will learn to decide this as a matter of taste, because that is the path of least resistance. This failure will be corrected later on if there is a need for it to be corrected.

But there probably won’t be any such need.

And so we decide what to do based on what we like. And we decide who’s a liar based on who, within proximity, is detected saying anything contrary.

We want to exist with each other in harmony, and we want to be capable. I’m afraid we aren’t doing a good job asking for either one of those things, so we’re facing a future that is missing both. Unless something changes.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Washington Rebel.

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