When we talk with our grandparents, we often expect them to be overly serious. So when Jerry told me I should refer to him as “The Emperor”, I was completely taken aback; to be completely frank, I wasn’t even sure if he was joking when I first met him. However, as I got to know him better, I understood Jerry to be a very witty person whose jokes could make people from any time period laugh.
As we talked further, Jerry and his wife emphasized the value of empathy and an open mind.
“When I was your age, I was going to school and working at the same time. I was in junior high; boys had a job. My first job, if I remember correctly, was in a grocery store. I met a lot of different people working in the grocery store and learned how to get along with people. It’s got to be in your personality, but you can improve on it if you have a basic background. Your personality has to be so that you’ll be receptive to people. You have to be receptive to other people’s ideas and opinions.”
Today’s society is more diverse in its people and beliefs than ever before. We are slowly overcoming the barriers that once divided us to become a global society that leverages the different skill sets and ideas of different people. As such, I believe that Jerry’s advice holds much importance. Intolerance for other ideas will only hinder the advancement of our globalized society. We need to be open to differing opinions so that we can create new solutions to the problems that plague us. That being said, we don’t need to agree necessarily with everyone’s beliefs. We need to find that balance between both unconditional acceptance and rejection.
Towards the end of our conversation, Jerry contemplated how far society has come and its course towards the future.
“From the horse and buggy to the moon. So where are we going to go in this millennium...Where are we going to go from here? We’ve already gone to the moon. We’ve gone to mars. Now what are we going to do.?