“The mark of immature people is that they want to die nobly for causes, while the mark of mature people is that they want to live humbly for causes.” ~ Jerome David Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye …
Although not all of us may agree with this definition of maturity, I think the majority of us can agree that we have experienced both sides of this coin before in our own lives. I can recall a time when I went along with the stereotypical belief that it was heroic and honorable to die for a noble cause. On the flip side, I now feel that the true honor lies not in the recognition of fighting for a noble cause, but in the action. And if we are dead–that action will cease to exist.
Being willing and able to give our lives for noble causes is a beautiful and important thing–after all, many horrible evils and deplorable situations would still exist had it not been for those individuals who were brave enough to do so. However, when I think of all the people who have died for causes, I cannot help but feel sad–sad at the loss of that individual’s potential, sad that the world has now been deprived of their uniqueness, and sad that one more flame that burned strong to dispel the darkness in this world has gone out.
Courage, commitment, and passion are not easy virtues to espouse. And those of us who have developed and embraced those traits, certainly could have continued to put these virtues to better use than going down in a blaze-of-glory fight. Some might see this as courageous and noble, however, it is perhaps even more courageous and noble to continue in the fight, and to continue in life–being a good husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister, friend, mentor, or teacher. Others need us to help them make it through their lives as well; and they need our help to grow and develop into the individual that they were created to be.
Perhaps the question we should be asking is, “Who are we dying for?” We are definitely not on this planet alone–therefore, our dying nobly still seems to me to be more selfish than our living nobly and our being there for those who need us and depend upon us.
Maturity is a lifelong process; as we realize that we are needed, we find ways to allow ourselves to fulfill those needs. And perhaps the clearest visible line of that maturity is the point when we no longer feel the need to receive recognition or accolades for what we do; when we recognize that the noble causes are much more important to us and to life, and we dedicate ourselves to them without the expectations of glory or honor.
Engage yourself in humble service.
Questions to consider:
What are some of the causes you feel are important enough to give your life for?
How do you define maturity? Immaturity?
How come society tends to romanticize the concept of dying for a cause?
For further thought:
“Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making its honey in the hive: without humility all will be lost. Those who humble themselves shall be saved; Those who bend shall be made straight; Those who empty themselves shall be filled.” ~ Felipe Cofreros, One Accord