Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Listening for a Mature Voice or How to Laugh When You Aren’t Drunk


Robert De Niro is a spokesperson for women?  I don’t know how he feels in real life, but in the film The Intern (written and directed by a woman), he’s an eloquent supporter of feminism. He quietly defends a successful businesswoman/mom (played by Anne Hathaway) both to her husband and to jealous female neighbors.

Watching the film, I had an urge to hug De Niro for being a mature man speaking like a mature man—even though I realized he was on script.  Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think maturity isn’t valued much in our society—by men or women.  For example, even this film feels compelled to have De Niro’s character suggest and participate in a farcical escapade with younger co-workers—a nod toward broad comedy that didn’t suit the thoughtful man De Niro portrayed at all.  He had been an advocate for honest communication up to that point, and I didn’t believe he would suddenly behave irresponsibly instead of encouraging Hathaway’s character to use her mistake as an opportunity for change.  The film went for cheap laughs instead of poignancy.

How many issues in our current culture do we as a people approach with maturity—listening thoughtfully to both sides, seeking out unbiased information, and treating everyone concerned with dignity and respect? Granted, this is an election year destined to be fraught with spin, but the sigh I felt as I watched De Niro’s masterful performance tells me maturity isn’t common.  We’re indoctrinated with sound bites—about feminism, racism, politics, even aging.  We flock to watch or play games of violence on ever-grander scales.  We seek out comedies that feature drunk people behaving badly. We elevate childish irresponsibility and then wonder how adults—including certain Olympic athletes—can follow suit.  We meant it all to be in fun, but do our children understand we were just kidding?  Do we still recognize the line between comedy and tragedy?

How I wish aging guaranteed maturity so we could be assured of a brighter future.  But it doesn’t. It’s not guaranteed by social status or education, either. Maturity can develop at any age—or not at all.  It requires personal effort.  It often requires a good sense of humor, as well, because we need to remember not to take ourselves too seriously or we can’t hear opposing points of view. However, when I watch acts of consideration shared by athletes at the Olympics or films based on high ideals, I’m encouraged.  Mature people exist, and they aren’t humorless.  My goal is to be one as often as possible.

One comment on “Listening for a Mature Voice or How to Laugh When You Aren’t Drunk

  1. Frances Sullivan
    August 21, 2016

    growing up I heard about maturity a lot and your piece reminds me of its meaning. Perhaps, like some common courtesies, it is thought boring today. Nah. I think I’ll set it as a goal, too. It seems a lovely thing. Thanks as always for your wonderful perspective. x

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