Moving beyond this pretense of ¨sin¨ that has seemed to weigh humanity down in it´s struggle for self actualization, we look back to the stages of human development put forth by Erik Erikson to look at the stage of Industry vs. Inferiority, for this stage asks the question, ¨How can I be good?¨ No longer submerged in the fear-soaked convictions of our imperfections and fallibilities, we can now emerge into the practical premise that the direction of our lives is ours to choose and not relegated to the philosophical undertakings of zealots that have been dead for the last 2000 years.
According to Erikson, this stage of development occurs between the ages of 6-11, but what actually occurs in this stage manifests at various times in a human life as we all mature at our own rate, and in various aspects of our being. The growth in this stage is found when we are able to assume more confidence by taking on new responsibilities and living up to them. It is this interaction with the world and the cultivation of a healthy self esteem that drive us toward a feeling of industry, the recognition that we are part of something greater than ourselves and that what we do matters. If this understanding is not cultivated, we often feel inferior and unable to cope with the rigors that life has to offer.
Erikson purported his theory of these stages of development in the 1950´s, a time when schools were almost idyllic and the American Dream seems to have hit its high water mark. Since then, as the Dream has dwindled and schools have become more about teaching facts than teaching children, and parents have had to spend more time working and less in conscious parenting, it would seem that many of us are not fully embracing the context of industry in establishing a life worthy of our highest good. Many of us relegate ourselves to just getting by and accepting inferiority as our station in life.
Of course, in a similar sense, as the ideas of the last step between the wages of sin and the gift of eternal life have permeated themselves into the maturation process of our civilization, it seems that because we have not fully embraced the gift of eternal life and the industry associated with it, we often find ourselves submitting to the wages of sin because that is all we feel worthy of. However, because each of us is a microcosm of the whole, and has the ability to find each and every one of these stages somewhere within our own consciousness, we each have the ability to reconcile ourselves with the bad lessons we may have learned in our development and choose to follow the higher path. Although our history may have us feeling inferior due to either lack of proper support and encouragement or the missed opportunities to engage in activities that would give us the necessary confidence to participate wholeheartedly in the lives we are given, we each have the ability to recognize this consistent possibility for self-growth and maturation, and choose to be industrious in our own personal evolution.
Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently involved in starting the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.