Trust in our young
For several years now, classmates of decades ago, mine from two schools (Bacolod and Manila), have been meeting regularly. There seem to be two basic reasons why. First is senior citizenship when our mortality becomes a concern and not only a mere thought. Second is social media applications which make it easy for old friends to find one another and reunite, albeit often only digitally.
The digital age is here. I know that senior citizens had a difficult time adapting to it. In fact, if it were not so powerful, my generation would most probably have rejected it. Despite our resistance, however, the digital age just kept intruding in every aspect of life, driven by the power and creative energy of younger generations and is being upgraded or transformed in ways and means unfathomable by older folks. Thank goodness that even we have found some benefit from it.
In ancient times when foraging was the main method of securing food, the advent of the plow was earthshaking. In travel, the wheel revolutionized how man moved from place to place. Communication discovered paper and the printing press. War power exploded with gunpowder. In my view, advances in science in medicine effectively stopped the major epidemics that caused the greatest loss of human lives. Electricity changed lifestyles and not only induced the innovation of machines and the birth of industrialization.
Then, the computer came, the microchip, the Internet, and Artificial Intelligence. Baby boomers like me are mostly still alive but we never could have imagined in our youth how life would be like this fifty or sixty years later. More than that, I do not believe that millennials today can imagine how life will be fifty or sixty years from now. If change happened so quickly by our pace as baby boomers, it will seem like lightning speed to our grandchildren.
Aside from the medical issues that have become urgent concerns and regular topics of conversations among senior citizens, politics and economics remain favorite subject matters. But in our more quiet and pensive moments, we discuss the future of our families, the future of the nation they will inherit from us. We talk about our collective failures. We ponder over the legacies we still try to build. It is as if we are not really accepting the finality of death and our absolute separation with the people and land we will leave behind. I know we have thoughts about the afterlife, whether it exists and what is most probably it will be. But we have deep thoughts, too, of the life here on earth, here in the Philippines, after we are gone.
I have mentioned in several past articles of images and aspirations about our beloved motherland, of her sons and daughters. I think the kind of changes we in the older generations have experienced and their suddenness, so to speak, have weakened our sense of security. It does not help any that our political stability has not been comforting either. And for the tens of millions of poor among us, definitely, the social and economic environment has always been a disaster and like a yoke of slavery. I am afraid we might leave this world with more fear and foreboding than the conviction that we have done well by our people and nation.
At the same time, I keep observing the youth of the land, those who have a good fifty or sixty years ahead of them. I think their average life span by then will be well in the ‘80s because science and medicine will continue to find cures for the major illnesses that kill so many today. Longer life is a major benefit if life is the primordial value of human existence. The longer life span I see ahead should, therefore, ease many of my worries.
I see, too, the vibrant energy of the young. That means they do not share my misgivings and insecurities. And in my desire to share the lessons of the more painful experiences of the older generations, I must not ever try to dampen the ideal and enthusiasm of our young. That means I and my generation must learn to trust that the younger generations will find answers to problems we could not solve – or find ways to find a peaceful co-existence with that they cannot change as well.
The main challenges that our nation faces are concentrated on poverty and corruption. That means the economic systems and political patterns we have lived must be disrupted, dismantled. Can the young do it? I believe so. They have dynamic technology and great creativity to discover and install new social, economic and political orders. They have begun with cryptocurrencies – and these are just the beginning. Artificial Intelligence may make cryptocurrencies obsolete in a few decades because they will not be secure enough by then. When money systems are disrupted, so will economics and politics.
What remains important is the most fundamental – for whom and for what is change? New discoveries and technologies are a foregone conclusion. What must be guarded by our society is the preservation of the highest and most beneficial values. These assure that change will intend to serve the human and common good. I have a growing conviction that the younger generations of the world aspire to bring life to better and higher levels. And if we believe that the youth of today are fixated on more instant gratification, then they will more effectively resolve the problems that block or slow down the attainment of their dreams.
Overall, then, I approach the next stage of collective life in the Philippines with more optimism than tribulation. That is certainly because of the quality of the younger and emerging generations of Filipinos. When Jose Rizal spoke of the youth, I do not know how far ahead he had imagined. I would like to affirm him, though, because his dream can very well come true.
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