Call and response

It’s worthwhile to consider the ways the old instruct the young, and the young enlighten the old. Make no mistake: both generations have plenty to impart, and neither trusts the other.

And so, as we must, we teach with metaphor.

The old disguise their lessons of hard-earned experience and the assumptions of their age in the gloss of fiction, whether through Spiderman or Shakespeare, Jesus or John Cena. Salman Rushdie captures this dynamic in conversation with Paul Holdengraber:

“The thing about fairy tale, folk tale, and mythology is that these things in many ways contain the collective wisdom of the human race; these beautiful little things into which an enormous amount of moral and practical information is packed.”

The young teach the old through invention. New technology, new fashion, new relationships to work and to sex. Each innovation is a pocket manifesto that responds:

“Yes, and here is what you missed. This is the solution. This is what matters now.”

Story and invention, call and response. Should you need to teach a lesson, keep the age of your audience in mind.