THE PRINCIPLE OF MATURITY
wisdom and fortitude
The most mature among us both remember their success and folly and exercise the will and action to improve in the future. They learn from their mistakes. We call such people “mature” and hold them in some well-earned esteem. We try ourselves to be more like them and tell our children to use such people as a worthy example. We offer the mature some special place in our society.
Wisdom is the memory of what either worked or failed in the past. Most of us acquire wisdom though our own experience, though some very fortunate few are able to gain wisdom by witnessing the example of others. These people seem rare, though. Expect to work hard for your own wisdom.
But wisdom can only do us any good if we’ve the will to apply what we know towards future decisions. This is where fortitude comes in…and the ability to recall what didn’t work—or what did—and either do it, or something like it, again or not at all. Fortitude can be trained. We can learn to strive. We can be taught to preserve through difficulty and to select and follow the more difficult path for good reason.
Wisdom typically comes of age while fortitude is gained of practice. This may explain why sports are such a popular activity for children, especially team sports, which couple youngsters with an experienced coach who has been given some license to train, dominate, guide and control the members of the team. In this way we couple the hard-won wisdom of the coach with malleable minds and bodies of the young such that they are trained to listen and obey, trained to understand the commands of their elder and to follow-through despite pain or personal discomfort. This is how the wisdom of the older and the fortitude of the younger create something greater than either the older or the younger could be on their own. Wisdom and fortitude then come together to create the quality of maturity in the teamwork and behavior of the group. Maturity then is won through a coupling of experience and raw, energetic life. We see the same effect with the military, where the apparent wisdom of the generals is executed on the battlefield through the disciplined fortitude of the soldiers on the field. Wisdom and fortitude come together again to create seemingly more mature action through the group.
Maturity is realized in individuals when we give up our base wants to our remembrance of past consequence and exercise our will to follow-through towards the better selves we know and want to become.