Thursday, November 22, 2012

Helping People Grow Up


I'm going to make a broad generalization that hopefully has some kernel of truth to it: The biggest problem in our society, the one that underlies and causes many, many other problems, is that so many people do not grow up emotionally. I'm making this accusation of all kinds of people. I'm talking about poor elderly patients. I'm talking about competent paramedics. I'm talking about well-born businessmen who go to Ivy League schools and run billion-dollar companies. I'm talking about myself.



A kid who grows up with every toy and every material comfort but inadequate guidance toward personal integrity will fail to mature as readily as a kid who grows up in the hood with no money, no stable family, and inadequate guidance toward personal integrity. (I say adequate guidance because most kids get some guidance, but the reality is that it takes a lot more than that to adequately help a kid break out of their innate, immature worldview.)

Our society is lacking key structures to facilitate emotional maturity. In fact, our society is full of structures that actively prevent people from growing up, like the booming alcohol, gambling, sports, and entertainment industries. The harsh reality is that this state of affairs is entrenched because it is highly profitable; emotionally immature people are easier to manipulate and they are easier to swindle. Conversely, a society full of emotionally mature people would have fewer opportunities for people like ad-men and bankers to make a quick buck, so those people have a strong incentive to keep things the way they are; they've largely convinced us (and themselves) that this is the only way things can be. But they are just as immature as the rest of us, as indicated by the selfishness underlying some of their actions.

But I'm not concerned with the whole state of society right now. I'm wondering how to inspire a single person to start that process that leads to emotional maturity, because society doesn't have to change in order for that one person to benefit from their own personal growth.

So what is it? What's going to inspire some kid? What's going to inspire me? What's going to inspire you?

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