We are at a time where people need to engage with each other, listen and share, build bridges and not walls. To instead favour and promote strident demands, unnecessary division, and worst of all, abuse of power to control others, are clear signs of immaturity: a state of being not-yet-fully-grown.
AT THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
Areas of maturity include physical, technical/ task, ethical maturity, emotional maturity, social maturity, cognitive maturity, and 'spiritual' maturity. One may think here in terms of applied intelligences.
At lunch with a friend this week I was asked to describe my take on religion versus spirituality – one sentence each! In a nutshell, religion for me equates more and more to institutionalised interpretations and beliefs (dogma) that consider all others to be wrong or ill-informed, and which results in limited thinking and exclusivity. Spirituality is the recognition of and deep appreciation of the interconnectedness of all beings and nature (a transcendent, unified field), which provides a springboard for the evolution of our highest possibilities, primarily love.
More than an umbrella over social and emotional maturity, spiritual maturity admits to an element of unknowing, is an outcome of being that precedes doing, and realises that values not converted to character virtues remain empty talk. Spiritual maturity is demonstrated by metanoia (bigger picture, non-dualistic) thinking, and kenosis (self-emptying beyond merely being prosocial).
Ken Wilbur points out that spiritual waking up without growing up can be disastrous and abrasive. Thus, cleaning up should precede showing up.
Wilbur also points out that pioneering psychologist Abraham Maslow topped his framework for self-actualisation with transpersonal needs, which include compassion.
“Have you ever wondered why religion has, on the one hand, everywhere been claimed to be the single greatest source of love, compassion, care, and morality in the world; and yet it is also, without doubt, the single largest source of hatred, murder, torture, and war that humans have ever known. How could the same basic human endeavor result in such diametrically opposed outcomes? How on earth could that even happen? Well, according to this more recent research, those at the lower stages of Growing Up almost always interpret their spirituality in power-driven, egocentric, and ethnocentric ways, thus actually predisposing them—causing them—to be hatred-driven and given to murder, torture, and warfare—and all, of course, in the name of the love of their God. Yet individuals at the higher stages of this Growing Up development almost always interpret their spirituality in open, loving, compassionate, and all-humans-included ways. The stunning breakthrough in the last century is that we finally discovered the major steps and stages that this overall Growing Up or development goes through. And thus, for the first time in history, we have some say as to whether a person’s spiritual reality will incline them toward hatred and war, or toward love and compassion”. (Wilbur, K. 2018)
Emotional Intelligence is being self-aware and managing our own emotions effectively. (Goleman, D. 1995)
Emotional immaturity is when people are unable or reluctant to express their feelings, shy away from venturing beyond being shallow, work towards becoming other-oriented and being empathic, and instead remain self-serving. They cannot admit to being wrong or having made a mistake. have commitment issues. ...
Emotional immaturity makes people prone to work-a-holism (often to mask lack of self- esteem)
Social intelligence is the way we apply a rational, moderating brake to our evolutionary-wired and memory-driven primitive, impulsive being. As we mature, we become more socially adept, grow skills like listening, understanding, being prosocial, and building healthy relationships. Where the focus is on self and others do not matter, then the development of narcissistic tendencies is possible. A sociopathic component of personality makes us socially immature. Conversely the development of reliability, respect, trust, compassion and a giving rather than taking nature (especially in hard times) indicate social maturity.
TECHNICAL/ TASK MATURITY
People may or may not mature in technical and task (skill-fully applied knowledge) capabilities as time passes (Mastery). Without accompanying relationship mastery something remains seriously lacking however.
Thinking with a larger mind (metanoia) allows for engagement with paradox, ambiguity, uncertainty, unpredictability. Thinking non - dualistically in ‘and/both’ terms rather than ‘either/or’ terms often leads to better sense making, problem solving, decision making, and a predisposition to accept diversity. This includes thinking in terms of relationship-building being the best route to superior task performance.
Cognitive maturity allows for open-mindedness, adaptability and agile response, usually goes hand in hand with sound self-esteem (which in turn admits to genuineness, authenticity and vulnerability). And mature thinking capacity spans the temporal range (future, past and present)
Oberlechner puts it succinctly: (Oberlechner, T. 2007)
Suffice to say that embodiment and interoception are areas of study based on an interrelated mind- body concept. (The physiological, psychological and psychosocial interplays between the causes, reactions to and alleviation of stress and trauma are now widely accepted). Physical stirrings may trigger intuitive insights.
And King Artur’s Merlin talked not of ageing but of “youthening”!
The different maturities are not separate from each other. So for example, cognitive maturity might come into play when having to solve a problem, make a decision, make sense of something - but without the spiritual aspect of wisdom it will not be sufficient. Technical/ Task maturity and all the knowledge and experience in the world, if not linked with the relationship dynamics of emotional and social maturity, will not result in optimum workplace performance and employee growth. Ethical maturity is in some ways an outcome of an intersection of spiritual, cognitive and social maturity. And being mature in the midst of a heated argument, and pausing to identify feelings and reaction possibilities before responding (verbally or physically) may be driven by the intersection of a number of the maturities outlined above.
Immaturity, per se, is not inherently negative and by definition is an opportunity for growth. But when combined with positional power, cognitive and psychological limitations, a ‘we-they’ mindset and narcissistic tendencies, it does become decidedly problematical.
AT THE STATE LEVEL
Last night, while reading Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, a wonderful story about two sisters in occupied France during World War II, the book became very real as I was struck by the similarities between a belligerent military occupation and the nasty, bossy, immature management of our lockdown in South Africa. (Hannah, K. 2017) Coincidentally a commentary on recent action taken during lockdown by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front thugs underlined my sentiment:
“That the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) should have seized upon the Clicks hair advertisement to showcase their propensity for violence was only to be expected. Ditto Cyril Ramaphosa’s supine response … and likened the EFF’s incendiary actions to Kristallnacht, when Nazis attacked Jewish business throughout Germany in 1938”. (Kane-Berman, J. (2020)
(The EFF grew out of the ANC Youth movement, led by Malema, and are very likely to partner with the ANC in our next election).
Back to our ANC government. The behaviour of any “interim” authority (such as an occupying force or Disaster Management Council) may be theoretically ‘lawful’ - because of the absence of constraining laws, or because laws are enacted specifically to support actions decided upon, or where a deliberate bypass of the constitution is allowed because of a false, “manufactured situation” (and a trampling on the constitutional rights of the populace is orchestrated).
Some are beginning to believe that the scale, predictability, consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have been manufactured. Authoritarian, “scientific”, “logic” is looking increasingly thin. (Sweden’s success based on herd immunity and the absence of a lockdown is adding to this belief). The WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) hoax, the Bush/ Blair pretext to invade and make war on Iran was similarly devoid of logic and truth. The headline says it all: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (The Guardian. 2004)
Certainly, the harsh, unilateral, lock-down here has been enforced and continues without any humanitarian, compassionate, mature application. Regulations include the removal of many inalienable rights, curfews, a built-in bias towards certain population groups and service providers, irrelevant restrictions, encouragement of blatant corruption, unnecessary controls, abuses, and the use of this situation to opportunistically introduce further discriminatory, muzzling and unconstitutional legislation and political aims – is reprehensible. At a visit to a local police station this past weekend I was struck by the intimidating, needlessly rude and domineering demeanour of the duty officers who ‘served’ us.
Whatever one’s views on the causes embraced by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, his statement during a public speech in Berlin on the 29th August this year bears serious consideration: “Governments love pandemics for the same reason they love war. It gives them the ability to impose controls on the population that the population would otherwise never accept, creating institutions and mechanisms for orchestrating and imposing obedience”. (Kennedy, R. 2020)
Far from demonstrating statesmanlike behaviour, the South African government has clearly flagged its collective and individual members’ immaturity during its handling of the coronavirus – cognitively, ethically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
We need wisdom, compassion, ethical and bigger picture thinking to take root and put a brake on the imposition by government control and command behaviours and the reduction of basic human rights, fueling of collective adversity and trauma. This trauma will result even if new laws and regulations are not initially understood and are meekly accepted.
Goleman, Daniel (1995) Emotional intelligence Bantam Books, NY
Goleman, Daniel (2006) Social Intelligence Hutchinson, London
Hannah, Kristin (2017) The Nightingale Pan Books
Kane-Berman, John (2020) Clicks: Losing all sense of proportion Daily Friend September 21, 2020
Kennedy, Robert F. Jr. (2020) Speech at the Festival for Freedom and Peace, Germany Berlin August 29, 2020
Oberlechner, Thomas (1997) The Research Foundation of the CFA Institute 2007, citing Dobson, J. Financial Analysts Journal, vol. 53, no. 1 (January/February):15–25. 1997
The Guardian (2004) There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 7th October, 2004
Wilbur, Ken (2018) Wake Up. Grow Up. The Leading Edge of the Unknown in the Human Being Amazon