A Dangerous and Terrible Thing
When a little child behaves childishly, we think little of it. Childishness is normal in children while their personalities develop. In fact, we don't use the term "childish" for childish behavior in children, because of its negative connotations. We call them "childlike."
We raise children to mental maturity.
When someone never steps up to mental maturity, you have the most dangerous and terrible thing in the world = a grown-up child. Why is what seems so benign in little children so malignant when it persists in adults? Because of the freedom and power adults have! Adults can do much more harm!
For example, would anyone be crazy enough to allow a furious five-year-old access to a gun? I hope not. I don't care how sweet that kid is, he couldn't be trusted not to get a really childish idea about how to solve his problem with that gun. So, what happens when a 40-year-old with the mental maturity of a 5-year-old is furious and sees a gun?
Besides, when childishness persists in an adult, it's always the childishness of a TROUBLED child.
Again, for example. Take one muddy kid and set him loose on an unsupervised playground with clean kids. He will run around, smearing himself off on every clean spot on other kids - till they are all muddy and crying and he looks good by comparison.
That is just a bad day at the playground.
But when he grows up, what if he keeps doing the same thing? What if he projects his faults and flaws off onto others by character assassination? People lose their jobs. Families break up. Businesses fail. Good leaders bite the dust and bad leaders get elected. No minor matter.
This is an old theme in art - that we can't let our love for children and our wise patience with them blind us to the true nature of childish behavior: take for example the novel The Lord of the Flies, the movie The Children's Hour, and this Twilight Zone episode described by Joanna Ashmund. It shows that a childish mind with the power to act on its impulses is a dangerous and terrible thing.
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