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The last few days I have had some conversations with people aged sixty-five to eighty-five, and thinking back over those events I’ve been asking myself what were the indicators of maturity? My general orientation to that subject is my scale — infant, child, adolescent, adult, mature, and sage. Our current situation is three weeks before the United States general election, so the political developments were the main topics of conversation, and they were stirring all our emotions more than most topics.

What was most bandied about was the present disorderliness of many of the main players, which seems to make a travesty and mockery of our democratic institutions. It seemed strange to me that we were as volatile in our opinions as we were considering that we were all going to vote the same way on all the things discussed. What I kept asking repeatedly was, “What are we going to do about it?” But it appeared that no one was going to do anything other than vote. No contributions to campaigns, no posters in the front yards, no bumper stickers. These people are a bit old to get involved personally in a run for public office, but it isn’t beyond their abilities to put up a poster or get involved in a phone campaign.

It was a bit strange that there was so much emotion in some of these people, but even they were not actively involved in any way. Several expressed the opinion that if they couldn’t vote for someone they liked they wouldn’t vote at all. Voting for the least bad wasn’t a reasonable thing to do for them, and some were going to vote for candidates that had no chance of winning. The idea behind that strategy was that it would send a message to the candidates who did win as to the direction they should lean in their decisions.

My theory of maturity defines a mature person as one who does things to help the whole community to survive and prosper. Those would be the people who would be going beyond their concern for their family’s welfare and beyond their personal seeking for status, and well beyond childish seeking for personal pleasure. Unfortunately, as far as I observed, none of the fifty people I’ve encountered this week has been actively involved in the current election. Nothing other than talk, talk, talk.

I do have a few friends who are active politically, but they haven’t been available for conversation because they are busy. I am not convinced that these politicos are any more mature than these other non-political people, it seems that they are just doing their thing. They got involved in politics early in life, and now that is what they do with their time. It’s their work, their hobby, and their meaning in life.

To be mature we must act on our experience and convictions.