I don’t despise young people, but they shouldn’t be leading us

Those of us with real-life experience should not be exploiting the younger generation to advance our political agendas just because we have no leadership to offer  

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 4:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 4:11am

I get a kick out of reading this quote from Canadian psychologist and media sensation Jordan Peterson.

“I tell 18-year-olds: Six years ago you were 12 – what the hell do you know? You haven’t done anything,” he said.

“You don’t have a degree, you haven’t finished your courses, you don’t know how to read, you can’t think, you can’t speak. It’s just not right to tell people in that situation that they should go out and change the socioeconomic structure of the culture!”

That sums up how I feel about many of our most prominent young activists in Hong Kong, especially those who advocate independence for the city.

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Over the years, my column has attracted quite a few hate fans. They have accused me of many things, some of which are not untrue. But there is one accusation I am absolutely not guilty of, that is, I despise young people. There is even a word for it – ephebiphobia. 

I honestly don’t. I have two teenage children. One of them will be 18 and going to university after this summer. His politics is much closer to that of my favourite target Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the controversial University of Hong Kong law lecturer. I am pretty sure the two of them would hit it off if they were to meet. If my son had been older, he would for sure have joined the Occupy protests of 2014.

I don’t hate or despise my child’s politics; I don’t take it seriously. Now and then, I would argue with him but I have never managed to change his mind. I am fine with that. He doesn’t take me seriously, either.

What I do hate and despise are older people who profess such love for young people to the extent that they think they should be led by them. These older people presumably were not born yesterday, have real-life experience and hold real jobs. But they think they should be led by people who were born yesterday, have little or no real-life experience and have never held down a real job or are only at the beginning of a career. 

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People should have their own ideas about how Hong Kong should be run and yes, they may be contrary to the policies of the Hong Kong and central governments. Fine; object, oppose! But  don’t exploit young people for your own agenda just because you have no leadership to offer.