[Hae-Joo] Coming of Age - What does it mean to be an "Adult"

in #adult6 years ago (edited)

Adult: a person who is fully grown or developed.


Corinthians 13:11 - When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I've had a realization, and I think it has to do with coming of age. When we are children, the world revolves around us. It has to; our minds are not sufficiently developed to be able to see a world beyond our immediate environment. We lack exposure to so many experiences, and are still learning so much through our physical senses. In this child state, we cannot do for ourselves, we are at the mercy of others, who must sacrifice themselves in order to nourish us and take care of our physical and emotional needs. In this state we are primarily consuming vast amounts of resources (of time, attention, care, etc.) and producing very little output, except in excess temperamental outbursts and excretions of messy bodily fluids.

Yet, as we hit the teen-age phase and start maturing to adulthood, I think there is a key point of transition here. Instead of being the needy, demanding beings of need that we are as children... We start to realize that the world doesn't exactly quite revolve around us.

We start to realize that other people have needs and wants, and maybe their needs and wants might take a certain precedence over our own.

We start to realize that with independence, self-ownership and free-will come great responsibilities.

Let me illustrate my point: I may want, and "need" a new iPhone because my current one is really old and making my life difficult. Yet, while laboring to earn enough to satisfy this want, I may come across someone in need of financial help, or even food, or lodging. This person might really need some form of assistance, help or care that they cannot immediately provide for themselves... And helping them may increase the length of time needed to satisfy my own wants and needs... Yet in certain cases, it is clear that somebody else's needs or wants may be more important, or more urgent, than my own. The "adult" thing to do is to tend to the hierarchy of importance, rather than to the whims of the mundane and superficial.

Being an adult, that is to say a fully-matured human being, is realizing that there is a hierarchy of importance in our world, and this hierarchy of importance does not revolve around us, or at least it's not dependent on our own personal hierarchy of importance. It doesn't matter that I need to urgently get to the bank before it closes, send an e-mail to my work colleague, or get back home for dinner on time... If life is in danger (particularly a human life, or a child life), that is always more important, universally-speaking no matter the time or place, than whatever else is going on, especially in our narrow-minded, self-important perception of our own lives..

And as far as I or anybody else who's come before has been able to tell: this hierarchy of importance is determined by the notion of "The Good"

So I'm kind of going to deviate now into a bit of a tangent, because I want to explain a little bit what is meant by "The Good"; but I'm going to bring this around. I hope you at least enjoy this little tangent.

The Greek word for "Good" used by Jesus in the Bible was the word Agathos.

The word Agathos was associated with several different meanings:

  1. good, brave, noble, moral
  2. fortunate, lucky
  3. useful

From the Proto-Hellenic which came from the Proto-Indo-European for “made great; whose deeds are great”

Agathos designates everything that is commendable, benevolent in intent, positive, and awesome. Did you help somebody out who was down? Did you make something that made somebody else happy? We could term all of this "agathic", or useful, good, brave, noble, etc..

The Bible often contrasts Agathos with Poneros

Poneros had the following meanings:

  1. (passive meaning) oppressed by toils
  2. (active meaning) toilsome, painful, grievous

But it's even deeper than this:

What it really highlights is the meaning of "full of labours, annoyances, hardships; pressed and harassed by labours; bringing toils, annoyances, perils; causing pain and trouble" - So poneros really designates anything that "creates unnecessary problems."

Mmm... This seems to be the exact same definition of the word "Sin".

Sin is understood as what is not of God, but of Man's Free Will, which makes a mess of everything God does for us.

When we lie, cheat, and steal (etc...); this is not "How things should be"... All this does is create problems for everyone down the line.

That's why it is Sin. God doesn't make us lie, or want us to lie... He wants us to be brave, fearless, noble, etc. To face up to our mistakes, own them, deal with the consequences, learn our lesson, forgive ourselves, and move on.

It's our cowardice, our fear of consequences that makes us lie... But down the line, all we are doing is creating problems for ourselves (not to mention to those whom we lie to, cheat, and steal from)

Poneros thus also had a slight connotation when used as an adjective:

"Of a bad nature or condition"
For example in a physical sense: diseased or blind (something bad for everyone, "a shame")
or in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad (as in the case of a person or system which produces extreme inequality and hypocrisy, such as in a society that exploits and demeans people)

So all of this is Poneros.

It's unnecessary complication that lead to grueling, suffering, hardship, etc... And all for what? - Usually nothing more than greed, lust or some other improper things.

So this seems to be the root of the Christian concept of "Good and Evil", as it is classically understood.

However, the way the ancient Greeks usually defined the opposite of Agathos was with the word Kakos

The meanings of Kakos, possibly from the Proto-Indo-European Kakka (do I need to tell you where that word comes from?) was as following:

  1. As a measure of quality: bad, worthless, useless
  2. As a measure of appearance: ugly, hideous
  3. Of circumstances: injurious, wretched, unhappy
  4. As a measure of character: low, mean, vile, evil

In the Bible, Christ did sometimes use the word "Kakia", derived from Kakos, meaning “wicked,” “slanderous,” and “cowardly.” But not when he was talking about "Evil".

When he was talking about "Evil", as in "Deliver us from Evil" in the Lord's Prayer ("Father, Hallowed Be Your Name..." ; the way Jesus supposedly taught us to pray to God)

What he was really talking about was the grotesqueness and unfairness inherent in the world. The lack of intelligence, the slavery of canon and dogma and unfounded, irrational, superstitious beliefs that kept the people down, trapped in "Sin" (meaning things that are bad for them, and everyone else ultimately).

Transliteration of the Lord's Prayer in the Greek Bible
kae mê eisenenkês hêmas eis peirasmon, (lead us not into temptation)
alla rhysae hêmas apo tou ponerou. (deliver us from evil)

Basically, it would seem that "doing the good", or being "good" doesn't just mean accepting our responsibilities (although that's a part of it), it doesn't just mean "pleasing others" (although that's a part of it)...

It's way deeper than that. What it means to be an adult, a fully-developed human being, is to be able to work and play in such as a manner as to bring about a reduction of suffering in our lives and the lives of others, and even better than that, to act in a manner that improves the quality of our life, as well as the quality of life of others.

This is line with the idea of agathos. Doing what is good is doing what "is moral", what feels good in our heart and what we know to be right, it means doing what is useful. It means bringing "good fortune" or "luck" to other people. All of this is agathos.

No small coincidence, the Greek term Agape, meaning the kind of love we associate with charity, selflessness, helping those who cannot help themselves; is also the word that was used in the Bible for "The Love of God".

The Greeks were very good with words. They distinguished Agape (the highest form of love) from erotic love (eros), love of things (philia), and even the kind of love that is automatic like love of one's parents, country, local football team, etc. (storge)

What it means to be an Adult

This is actually quite profound in my view, because how many of us "act like adults", no matter our age?

When a 15 year old acts in a selfish, narrow-minded way, we think it's okay because they're still a child...

But what happens when a fully-grown, older human being acts in a selfish and narrow-minded way? Are they acting like "adults" when they do this?

Being an adult means valuing others as much as we value ourselves. It means doing to others what we would have done to ourselves. It means realizing that we are a part of something greater than ourselves... And honoring this fact.

Yes, obviously it means taking responsibility for ourselves (we wouldn't want other people depending on us all the time for the basic things they can do for themselves), and yes it also means pleasing others (because we too would like to be pleased by others from time to time)...

Sure it means "acting grown-up", i.e: being able to be serious when it's time to be serious, relaxing when it's time to relax, knowing what is appropriate for each and every situation in life (or at least trying our best to know what is appropriate.)

But what it really means is seeing that there are so many things that all depend on us... That the Universe made us for a a reason... And a valid one too. And that if we are not living up to our true purpose, and are not going above and beyond the call of duty, making great efforts and always striving to do our best... Then we are truly fucking up the whole damn thing...

Call it the Universe, God's Plan, the "world"... What ever feels right.

But knowing that we all have to give the best of ourselves. That is what it means to be an adult.

It means if we have to get out of bed even though we'd rather sleep in, we get out of bed ready to complete the tasks at hand... It means getting there early so as to not make other people wait and lose time for us... It means being reliable, solid, something that other people can rely on to do what is necessary when the time comes.

When everybody plays their role in this way... If ever a day came when enough people played their role in this way...

A day when the majority of mankind started acting like adults...

Life on Earth would be so frickin' simple...

Not easy. But Simple

I kind of deviated into a kind of Greek/Christian understanding of what it means to be an adult but really every single culture and religion has this stuff inside of it. Obviously for Western people we can best understand what it means to be an adult through the lens of Greco-Christian thinking; but everybody has this.

It's a real shame (Cough: Kakos) to see an old human being still acting like a child.

Peace and Love,


Sources: Greek in the Bible
Pixabay: 1


Some people can only handle the milk. I keep having to remind myself, when offering the meat if the word. Great info.

Yup, it's not always sweet.
Sometimes it's tough.

But the balance between the two is what makes it all worthwhile

You are a great inspiration. How is the weather there? Just curious?

Hey @sweetjoy,
Thank you...
And the weather where?
You mean China?

This post has been selected for curation by @msp-curation by @clayboyn and has been upvoted and will be featured in the weekly philosophy curation post. It will also be considered for the official @minnowsupport curation post and if selected will be resteemed from the main account. Feel free to join us on Discord!

Wow! Thanks @clayboyn and MSP-Gang!
Many thanks!!! <3

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