Fear for Today’s Generation

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By Ma. Doreen Era E. Murata 

Young people nowadays tend to be busy with a lot of things. First, there’s school. There are just too many school activities that keep young people pro-active: soirees, band battles, fairs, exams, theater performances, and the like. For a vast number, there’s also youth politics.

I am no longer a student; it took me 18 grueling but fun and self-improving years to complete my journey of education. However, I have a close niche of friends that are both students and activists at the same time. It’s actually fun how some of them transformed from quiet and humorous students into straightforward, frank activists speaking out and demanding their rights.

I have been and always will be at the sidelines: the one who laughs at their jokes and bullying (90 % of it aimed at me, but all in good fun); the one who has to go home early; and the one who quietly reminds them to enjoy life because, despite all activism and school pressure, we are still young people who need to enjoy life.

My greatest fear for our generation is that a majority of us have failed to build serious and long-lasting relationships. I’m not just referring to partner relationships, but also friendships and communities. It’s as if our drive for independence has also driven us to unnecessary isolation. Many of us live alone, in apartments, condominiums or houses all by ourselves. And the sand thing is, we hardly even know our neighbors. It is sad that because of our fast-paced life, we fail to make real, important connections.

As I write this article, I remember an incident that happened back in December of last year:

Due to the demands of year-end office tasks, I rarely got enough sleep and adequate food, so it came as no surprise to me when I got a fever and my muscles ached like I went into a battle against buffaloes and elephants. Since I lived alone in an apartment, I tried texting my closest friends, all to no avail. I soon felt worse, knowing that I had to endure the pain without medication since no one was available to help me.

Suddenly, there was a knock on my door, and to my surprise it was the tenant across my room asking if I was OK or if I needed help. I shyly asked if he could buy some medicines for me. Thankfully, he did. And only later, after he bought me medicines and some food to go with them, did I realize that I didn’t even know his name. And we’d been living across each other for almost three months.

That incident was a lesson well-learned for me. I got so busy with work and socializing that I was a total stranger to my neighbors. I knew that with the prudish and cold way I talked to new people I met, it wasn’t a surprise that I didn’t have many friends.

What happened to me was a wake-up call and a big realization. It fully captured my fear for today’s generation with our fast-paced life. In his book, Like the Flowing River, author Paulo Coelho wrote. “…worse than hunger or thirst, worse than being unemployed, unhappy in love or defeated and in despair, far worse than any or all of those things, is feeling that no one, absolutely no one, cares about us.”

I do not want that to happen to me. That incident in December 2011 was more than enough for me to realize that life is not just about being excellent in school and having a good salary. It is also about being able to follow one of the golden rules in life that young people seem to forget: love thy neighbor.

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