by Manoj Dhar, as featured in South China Morning Post 26 January 2022
Dear Children of Hong Kong,
In mid-2020, about 26 per cent of the world’s population were under 15 years old.In mid-2021, you accounted for 15 per cent of Hong Kong’s population. More importantly, though, you make up 100 per cent of Hong Kong’s future!
Despite this undeniable truth, the past two years have been an interminable loop of us grown-ups failing you. And for that, you are owed a heartfelt and most overdue apology.
While we adults grew up in a “normal” environment, we are failing to pass that on to you. While we were able to enjoy stable school and university routines, we have let you down by not ensuring the same for you. While we developed strong social skills and built lifelong friendships during our youth, we have deprived you of the opportunity to do the same.
While we blossomed physically, emotionally and mentally thanks to unlimited playtime, sports and a variety of experiences, all we have to offer you is an environment of isolation and the growing spectre of your emotional and educational marginalisation.
While it is us, the purported grown-up lot, who have caused this unpardonable threat to your growth, and who continue to endanger you with our reckless behaviour, it is also we who revel in hypocritically talking up the extent of your mental health issues.
While we are busy hard-selling “online learning” and the “new normal”, we have failed to acknowledge our own responsibility of leaving a “normal” legacy for you. While we express concerns over you potentially growing up with less developed social skills, we refuse to own up to being the very cause of this threat. While we appear enthused about adopting a “work from home” lifestyle, we have been derelict in enforcing such a regression onto you. While we have lavishly enjoyed our rights and privileges as grown-ups, we have failed to fulfill our duties as adults.
However, we remain optimistically hopeful that in the upcoming Year of the Water Tiger, more of us will appreciate that being an adult is a matter of responsibility and not merely age.