Rite of Passage? Experience?

One of the age old debate we often hear is whether the younger generations should go through what the earlier generations have experienced so that they can better appreciate their present. It is okay for one to go through what earlier generations go through so as to appreciate what they currently have, but it should not be something excessive; just enough for a taste of it. I recently had a discussion with someone, who insisted that we should allow the generation to go through the process, learn it through the hard way just like we did. I disagree, simply because there will be no progress if we do not pass on our knowledge and experiences to the next generation. Someone else weighed in and mentioned that experience is something that is implicit, not what you write in a book and others gained by reading it. However, if we were to expect that people go through what their predecessors go through, without a better, more efficient form of gaining that experience, wouldn’t that be too slow and inefficient?

Yes, on the other side of the coin, there is a Chinese saying that it is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books. There is nothing that can substitute real life experiences as it can leave an indelible mark in one’s mind. But we also need to understand that human’s knowledge is accumulative, which means that the later you are born, the more you have to catch up, simple because there are more generations ahead of you. Can we really have people go through the same process again just for experience sake? How much can we preserve of that actual experience so that it is authentic, or are we doing it just to make ourselves feel more assured?

Furthermore, experience is something that is unique to everyone. Two person who walked the same path will not have the same experience, for they are looking out for different things, predisposed towards certain things and they seek to achieve different things.

To me, if we do not pass on whatever wisdom that we have accumulated over the years, to have a system to ensure that this knowledge, insight, experience or whatever you call it is captured in some form of medium, then we will be going around in circles. As what people have said: Those who do not learn history are bound to repeat it. Perhaps there will be progress, but the progress will be so slow that it hardly keep up with time.





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