This quote explains precisely why reading is one of my favourite pastimes and I believe the reading of some works of literature at some point in one’s life to be essential. However, I would also like to argue that there is another component to developing this kind of understanding – cross-generational relationships.
With the rapidly changing definition of a family, as well as the shrinking of the average household, it is all too common for most of our friendships and/or meaningful relationships to be with our peers, or at most with our parents. And yet cross-generational interactions are inevitable in our everyday lives. Often these can be fraught with miscommunications and general awkwardness, but this is no reason to avoid them. In fact, this is all the more a reason to invest oneself in cross-generational relationships.
When you are friends with a mother and a daughter, you receive a double dose of the usual complaints about parents/children, often about the same situation. And it is this extra dose of complaints that allows you to see the daughter as neither a spoiled brat nor the perfect child and the mother as neither a selfless martyr nor an unjust tyrant. Instead, you learn to see them for what they are: complex individuals with contradictory personal traits, who frequently behave in a morally ambiguous manner. In short, you learn to see people (including yourself) for what they are – human.