Immature                            -                           Mature
Irresponsible                       -                           Responsible

Development [...] can be defined as a successive decrease in egocentrism.

Carol Gilligan found, for example, that female moral development tends to go through three general stages, which she calls selfish, care, and universal care. In each of these stages, the circle of care and compassion expands and egocentrism declines.

[Ken Wilber]
A Theory of Everything, p. 17-18

Elders speak about everyone, but they do not ask to spoken about. They see everyone, but do not ask to be seen. The self is sacrificed, put to one side.

As we mature our gaze gradually turns away from the self and out towards others. We see more and become responsible for more. The less we look at the self, the more we see of our surroundings.

We begin to speak less in terms of "I" and "me" and more in terms of "we" and "us." We recognize our connectedness and become communalized.

For an elder to ask to be seen or spoken about is a perversity, and goes against the natural order. Just as water flows downhill, our gaze should also flow downwards, so that we see and speak about all those beneath us - less mature than us - and are in turn seen and spoken about by those above us. And as we wouldn't expect water to flow uphill - and would be engaging in a fruitless activity if we were attempt to make it - we shouldn't expect to be seen or spoken about by those beneath us. As we become older the self should become less important, and should not need to be stroked as much as when we were younger.

o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o

This is one of the reasons why it is so disturbing when we meet an older person who is still consumed by selfishness and vanity, and who demands that we see and hear them, rather than the other way around. They may be older than us, but through such behaviour we see that they are no more mature. Often in cases like this, we must become the adult, sacrificing our self so that theirs is satisfied. An old person like this has ducked their duties and cannot rightly be seen as an elder. They are frozen in time, perpetually immature.

How can we hope for a mature and wise society if our grown-ups refuse to grow up?

"I will speak about others, but I will not expect or demand to be spoken about."

In many indigenous cultures, elders are accorded great respect.

To be an elder is more than being old; it means being a person who has learned some wisdom from their life experiences, including their mistakes. An elder may be someone who has lived a blameless life of complete integrity, or a recovering alcoholic who knows from personal experience how hard it is to struggle with an addiction, and so can guide others.

Not everyone old is wise. For some people, aging can simply rigidify longstanding patterns of dysfunction. 

And some "elders" may be young, blessed with good judgment, compassion and sound sense from an early age.

Groups need elders: people who put the needs of the group first and help keep its balance. 

We may become elders and gain social power in many constructive ways:

- By Taking on Responsibility and Fulfilling It

- By Helping the Group Function Smoothly

- By Good Judgment

- By Making Mistakes and Acknowledging Them so They Become Part of Group Learning

- By Showing Compassion and Forgiveness

- By Integrity and Upholding Values

- By Bringing Experience, Skills and Training to the Service of the Group

- By Mentoring and Being Mentored

- By Commitment and Time

- By Modeling Good Self-Care


In maturity environment is something to which the individual contributes and for which the individual man or woman takes responsibility.

In a community in which there is a sufficiently high proportion of mature individuals there is a state of affairs which provides the basis for what is called democracy.

Of a true democracy (as the term is used today) one can say: In this society at this time there is sufficient maturity in the emotional development of a sufficient proportion of the individuals that comprise it for there to exist an innate tendency towards the creation and re-creation and maintenance of the democratic machinery.

By 'innate' I intend to convey the following: the natural tendencies in human nature (hereditary) bud and flower into the democratic way of life (social maturity), but this only happens through the healthy emotional development of individuals.

In bodily development the growth factor is more clear; in the development of the psyche, by contrast, there is a possibility of failure at every point, and indeed there can be no such thing as growth without distortion due to some degree of failure of environmental adaptation

[...] only a proportion of individuals in a social group will have had the luck to develop to maturity, and therefore it is only through them that the innate (inherited) tendency of the group towards social maturity can be implemented.

If the proportion of mature individuals is below a certain number, democracy is not something which can become a political fact since affairs will be swayed by the immature, that is to say, by those who by identification with the community lose their own individuality or by those who never achieve more than the attitude of the individual dependent upon society.

Maturity means, among other things, a capacity for tolerating ideas, [a capacity] which at its best is part of social maturity. A mature social system (while making certain demands in regard to action) allows freedom of ideas and the free expression of them.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From ('The Meaning of the Word 'Democracy''), p.242-3
Human Nature, p.29, 59-60, 152

The psychologically mature person as I have described him has, I believe, the qualities which would cause him to value those experiences which would make for the enhancement and survival of the human race.

He would be a worthy participant and guide in the process of human evolution.

[Carl Rogers]
Person to person, the problem of being human, p. 27

Our explanation of the sublime can indeed be extended to cover the ethical, namely what is described as the sublime character.

Such a character springs from the fact that the will is not excited here by objects certainly well calculated to excite it, but that knowledge retains the upper hand.

Such a character will accordingly consider men in a purely objective way, and not according to the relations they might have to his will.

For example, he will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without being thereby stirred to hatred on his own part. He will contemplate their happiness without feeling envy, recognize their good qualities without desiring closer association with them, perceive the beauty of women without hankering after them. His personal happiness or unhappiness will not violently affect him [...]

For, in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer.

This contemplation is only maintained by a constant turning away from the will and exaltation above its interests; and this constitutes the sublimity of the disposition.

On the other hand, the charming or attractive draws the beholder down from pure contemplation, demanded by every apprehension of the beautiful, since it necessarily stirs his will by objects that directly appeal to it.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.206-7

The Master of Hermetics polarizes himself at the point at which he desires to rest, and then neutralizes the Rhythmic swing of the pendulum which would tend to carry him to the other pole.

All individuals who have attained any degree of Self-Mastery do this to a certain degree, more or less unconsciously, but the Master does this consciously, and by the use of his Will and attains a degree of Poise and Mental Firmness almost impossible of belief on the part of the masses who are swung backward and forward like a pendulum.

The Kybalion, Chapter II: "The Seven Hermetic Principles"

In Pintupi life, autonomy is inseparable from relatedness. The two are coordinated through initiation.

The production of the social person involves an elaboration of the ties of relatedness to others, the creation of a public self that takes priority over its private qualities, and the development of the ability to "look after" others.

Thus, initiation is a dramatization of a man's becoming responsible for himself, developing autonomy and capacity to look after others through relations, and a negation of being "looked after” by elders. The initiate becomes one among equal men, capable of entering into reciprocal exchange with others […]

In initiation, the strands of Pintupi social life are brought together at the fulcrum of the system: the construction of related individuals.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.228, 236, 239

A tolerant scepticism, an ability to doubt one's own ideas as well as those of other people, is a good test of maturity: fanaticism, insanity, and an infantile attitude to others are closely related.

[Anthony Storr]
The Integrity of the Personality, p.174

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