Though many of us have grumbled about not getting along with either the younger or older generation, have we ever wondered why this happens? Have we ever thought about why we are unable to relate to both these generations? Is it just the age we live in? What is this generation divide all about?
We all have feelings that we encounter on a daily basis. They add colour and purpose to our life, making it intriguing and fulfilling. Emotions, whether they be joy, sorrow, rage or love, have a significant impact on how we perceive and engage with the outside world. We experience extreme joy and excitement on occasions, and sadness or angst on another. Emotions have a significant impact on how we feel, think, act, and interact with others. Understanding our emotions makes life’s journey more rewarding and joyful by assisting us in making sense of who we are and of the people around us.
The term “generation gap” describes the differences and occasionally, the misunderstandings that take place between persons of various ages. Every generation has its own values, beliefs, and life experiences. Conflicts or disagreements between older and younger people can result from this. Each generation may perceive the other as either being out of touch with contemporary culture or lacking in their regard for our rich traditional practices. Acknowledging and accepting these distinctions can foster greater inter-generational harmony and partnership, enabling all people to share knowledge and collaborate for a better future.
Have you realised that emotional divide is another factor contributing to the generation gap? The emotional bond that we form with someone also determines the distance we feel from them.
In January 2023, I visited one of the tourist spots known as PARAMBIKULAM. The place borders both the states of Tamilnadu and Kerala and is home to many plants and animals. Parambikulam is a reserve forest and serves as one of the major water sources for both states. We were staying nearly 30 kms away from the dam and we were taken on a jungle safari to visit it.
The safari took us through a dense forest, after nearly 5 kilometers, we suddenly came across a small settlement of families. The next 25 kms were again through the dense forest with no human beings in sight. My thoughts, after travelling 30 kms, were still with the people in the settlement. All I had noticed were a few small houses, a temple, a small school probably for the kids there and a football ground. I felt EMOTIONALLY connected with them, and empathized with them – how terrible it must be for them – should a medical emergency arise, they have to travel to the nearby town called POLLACHI which is 50 kms away.
A few months later, in April 2023, I travelled to another place called MIRIK, a two-hour tedious journey from Siliguri. The road was literally a two-way track through a steep ghat section. I saw few settlements throughout the journey. They had no development facilities. I did not see any school or primary health center. All the residents between Siliguri and Mirik need to travel to either of these places in case of an emergency. Once I reached Mirik, however, I had forgotten about the people I saw during my journey. I enjoyed the pleasant weather, and was very eager to explore the place, its culture, its food, and way of living.
Once I returned to my hometown, I reminisced about both these trips, and I suddenly wondered – WHY WAS I NOT IN THE POSITION TO EMOTIONALLY CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE ON MY WAY TO MIRIK AS I HAD DONE ON MY PREVIOUS TRIP?
After a lot of introspection, I realised that it was due to the emotional connection I felt with the culture and people in Parambikulam.
Every now and then I meet a lot of new people. As a Chartered Accountant, I have several opportunities to regularly talk to elders and youngsters alike – who are either my clients, professional acquaintances or articled assistants. In life as we age, we find it hard to understand the young more and more. We choose to blame the generation gap and move on.
We give so much importance to the intelligence quotient (IQ), but we never try to understand our own emotions. As we grow, we must mature, and as we go around interacting with people of all ages, we must adapt to their varied emotional needs.
The fact that I was able to connect emotionally with the local people (who were essentially my contemporaries) and was unable to do so with the other people (who were either younger or older than me) made a dent in my emotional quotient (EQ).
I believe that our profession demands that we equip ourselves to match the younger generation to stay in the competition – especially in the understanding and use of technological advancements. But no one has taught us how to stay emotionally connected with the younger or older generations. No one has taught us how to understand their emotional needs.
A quote that I read somewhere by the American journalist and social-political activist, Gloria Steinem comes to mind, “WE NEED TO REMEMBER ACROSS GENERATIONS THAT THERE IS AS MUCH TO LEARN AS THERE IS TO TEACH”
We are so very eager to teach when someone approaches us; we never get into the emotional need of the other generation. How beautiful would this world be if we stop, empathize, and try to understand each other EMOTIONALLY rather than hastily labelling these encounters. Until we start making an effort, the bridge will never get built.
About the Author – CA M. Maalan Bharathi
Maalan Bharathi is a practicing chartered accountant from Coimbatore. He enjoys speaking and has spoken to students on a variety of subjects. He is pursuing several certifications in emotional intelligence since he is fascinated by understanding human emotions. Under the pen name “underage optimist”, he has written a variety of pieces because he loves to write so much.
He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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