Being Right

There’s this interesting scene in the movie Too Big To Fail, which is about the 2008 financial crisis that almost brought down the entire global economy. The setting was after US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (played by William Hurt) asked the CEOs of the world’s biggest financial institutions to work through the weekend and try coming up with solutions to avert the crisis.
After hours of non-stop numbers crunching, a group of Goldman Sachs executives took a limousine to continue working at the New York Federal Reserve offices. Stepping down from the car, an executive whined he couldn’t handle the stress. Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman’s, turned to the young man and said: “You’re getting out of a Mercedes to go to the Federal Reserve. You’re not getting out of a Higgins Boat on Omaha Beach.”
Was reminded of that scene after reading about this survey on millennials. As Ben Renner reports, “stressors are causing young adults to have struggles falling asleep 138 nights each year”.
Apparently, “one-third of millennials believe their lives are more stressful than the average person’s life. The survey also pointed to the numerous causes of frustration for this particular youth segment. Many feel their overall stress level is caused by the accumulation of daily micro-stressors — seemingly trivial experiences — such as being stuck in traffic, waiting for appointments, or various smartphone issues.”
So, what are these stressors? Stressors causing millennials to lose sleep and believe their lives are worse than others? Brace yourselves, they are:

1. Losing wallet/credit card

2. Arguing with partner

3. Commute/traffic delays

4. Losing phone

5. Arriving late to work

6. Slow WiFi

7. Phone battery dying

8. Forgetting passwords

9. Credit card fraud

10. Forgetting phone charger

11. Losing/misplacing keys

12. Paying bills

13. Job interviews

14. Phone screen breaking

15. Credit card bills

16. Check engine light coming on

17. School loan payments

18. Job security

19. Choosing what to wear

20. Washing dishes

You got that right.
Feel free to take a moment to bang your head.
This takes me to a video that fairly spread around social media last week, where a senatorial candidate got into a rude back and forth with a student during a forum. The student apparently called the candidate a liar and the latter responded by calling the student “bobo.”
Now, the portion of the video that viraled unfairly starts when the candidate already lost his temper. Most netizens called out the candidate, rightly so, reprimanding him for apparent boorish behavior.
Nevertheless, the student himself should be called out for his disrespect: just because you disagree with someone or that person believes something differently does not entitle you to insult anyone publicly.
The video’s audio also happened to capture the offended muttering of the other students, which was annoying as they were completely oblivious to the fact that the initial insults came from one of their own. The students themselves should know about appropriate behavior towards others.
Furthermore, the reason why election fora are held is so that the students can hear what the candidates have to say. Not shut them up by heckling or insults. If one disagrees with what is being said, the mature thing to do is simply not vote for that candidate.
No need for the boorish theatrics.
Anyway, the point is that adults in government, academia, and in families must stop this ridiculous self-entitlement of students that just because they’re “feeling activist” they can do or say anything they want.
Respect begets respect.
Also, because they’re younger, is precisely why they should learn deference rather than arrogance towards their elders.
The problem is that life is too easy right now for the young. Everything available. Whenever desired. Convenient.
But Tim Wu points out, “we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.”
Thus, as Wu insightfully states and what we must make the present youth understand, is that “difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience (The Tyranny of Convenience, February 2018).
There is something wrong in the way we are forming our youth. Rather than teach and train our youths to have the capability to deal with reality, we bend or twist reality for their convenience and feelings.
This is something this column is interested in exploring further. But for now, instilling rigorous discipline back in the schools would be a good start. Students need to learn that if they want to play an adult’s game, they should pay an adult’s price.
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.
Twitter @jemygatdula