Belief in Others
© 19 Oct 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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One definition of maturity.


Several years ago I heard someoneI cannot recall her name posit an idea that, in my own words defines maturity as the belief in others. And I don’t mean the words-of-encouragement “‍I believe in you‍” kind of belief: I mean the belief in God kind of belief in people.

This definition struck me, at the time, as rather strange but I’ve found it holds up pretty well. Just this evening I spent an hour and a bit in an Institute of Religion class discussing maturity and this definition sufficed for at least two thirds of our discussion.

The least mature people I encounter seem to treat other people as being either sources of want fulfillment or annoyance, or often both. A person with needs is to them like an engine with a squeaky belt: possibly useful, but unnecessarily annoying. As people mature they start to sympathize and treat other people as people, but at first with a small pool and a principally self-focus. The most mature people I know really believe, and act on the belief, that other people are people, whether they be police or janitor or politician, brat or punk or geezer.

Sometimes as I walk about I will notice that I treated someone as if they were not a person. It’s a bit shocking to find myself subconciously objectifying people. Part of the shock, I suspect, is because in order to notice I am doing it I have to stop doing it. To say “‍I just treated you like a non-person‍” is to anthropomorphize the “‍you‍” so addressed. Thus, even to ask “‍how much do I believe in others‍” is to move toward believing them more.

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