I don’t mean we are big babies in the sense of still wanting to eat ice cream for dinner, although this is both undeniable and understandable. I mean we are big babies in the sense that babies behave as if absolutely everything was about them.
If something happens that we do not like, we assume there was an intention to cause us harm. If I am offended, you must have intended to offend me.
Now, if this was our only similarity with babies, I would stop right here. But there is another similarity, namely that we think the world should immediately make all unpleasant things go away. I am hungry: feed me! I am soiled: change me! I am cold: warm me! I am hot: cool me! I am bored: entertain me! You get the point.
How else to explain microaggressions and safe spaces? We have somehow managed to bring a generation of children into adulthood without ever leaving their babyness behind. And in the process, we have all embraced a bit of our inner baby as well.
I think it is time that we reminded ourselves of a few things. No one said age is a guarantee of maturity. Being an adult is hard, but we’re the only ones who can do it. As the Buddha said:
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
So the first step to maturing is recognizing that we have to do it ourselves.
But how do we leave the baby self behind? By taking responsibility for our thoughts, which will then help guide our actions. If you want to escape your safe space, and be freed of the pain of microaggressions, take heed of what Marcus Aurelius told himself:
Take away your opinion, and there is taken away the complaint ‘I have been harmed.’ Take away the complaint ‘I have been harmed,’ and the harm is taken away.
Though he was Emperor of the Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius himself needed reinforcement, and I know we do as well. So I offer you this additional reminder on his behalf:
Cast away opinion: you are saved. Who then hinders you from casting it away?
Who indeed is stopping us from being the adults we want to be?
Best of all, I have it on good authority that even as an adult you can still have ice cream for dinner every now and then.