Naivety or Bust?

“ The boy kept pulling at his coat. Papa? he said.
Stop it.
Cant we help him Papa?
No. We cant help him. There’s nothing to be done to him.”

There’s this thing about childhood innocence, as Cormac McCarthy shows in his excerpt from The Road. Every year, as we get older with every passing birthday, it’s as if we take on this new responsibility of maturing. You learn to take on new responsibilities, to fend for yourself in the event that one day you won’t have anyone else to rely on. It’s a natural process of life. But what about the innocence of childhood? Has becoming a seasoned expert on life become part of the experience? And is it really a benefit to lose your youthful naivety?

I’ve come to realize that as we get older and as we learn to cope with added responsibilities, we tend to over-rationalize and contemplate decisions. What happened to the simplicity of youth? If someone in elementary school shared his (or her) show-and-tell toy with you, then you saw it as a friend sharing with you. Likewise, if they didn’t share their toy with you, you didn’t sit there dwelling on the reasons why they didn’t. You realized, with childish rational, that this person wasn’t a friend to you. And somehow, as we take on new responsibilities with maturity, we over-analyze situations and somehow try to rationalize others’ actions. Where’s the logic in that?

Somewhere along the transition of childhood to adulthood, we’ve learned to mature and become “less-naive” about situations. Instead of sticking with our instincts and logic, we’ve become conditioned to think of one’s intentions. Instead of thinking about what someone actually does, we try to put ourselves in their shoes to understand their perspective. We over-analyze, complicate situations, and try to rationalize situations that would appear so clear in the eyes’ of a child. Is this a part of psychosocial development? And if it is, is there a way that we can re-condition our brains to think less about inferiority and more about self-satisfaction? I can’t help but wonder this: is it really beneficial to become more experienced and less naive in the long run?

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