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China Times: Ill omen of society's `grand collapse'

2012/05/06 20:49:26

Former Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang issued a strong warning in his new book titled "Taiwan's Grand Collapse" that Taiwan's younger generation is in the middle of a grave crisis of "four nots" -- not marrying, not giving birth, not raising children and not living.

Declining birth rates, fewer and fewer marriages and higher and higher divorce rates are nothing new in Taiwan. Yaung's proposed solution is to raise taxes, particularly from the wealthy who make big money on the stock market, and use the revenues to encourage young parents to raise more children.

Over 30 years ago, a psychology professor, Wu Ching-chi, published a best-selling book titled "Young People's Four Dreams" in which he encouraged youngsters to "search for the true meaning of life," "find good teachers and good friends," "pursue a worthy career" and "seek love."

Are these four dreams still in store for today's young people? Given the current reality, the answer may be a saddening no, as a majority of them have lost their sense of direction and even their hope. Some of their problems are personal, but others are directly related to society as a whole.

Take a few major social news stories for example and it becomes plain how our younger generation is confronted with chaotic values and even destruction.

The first story concerns a college dropout whose family name is Yeh and who hit and killed a woman while he was driving drunk. Her husband, devastated by the loss of his wife, also died, leaving behind an 8-year-old daughter.

What really provoked anger was Yeh's mother, who begged for mercy for her "playful" son, claiming that he is not "as bad as Makiyo," a woman entertainer charged with assaulting a taxi driver together with her Japanese boyfriend.

The suspect himself has all along avoided facing the victim's family, leaving his mother in the difficult position of having to explain everything in an attempt to "save" her son.

Who is responsible for raising such an irresponsible young man? Isn't his mother and other senior family members partly to blame for having spoiled him?

Another drink driving story is even more shocking. A 24-year-old drunken driver by the family name of Hung hit and injured an elderly man, who fell to the ground. Sensing that the victim was still alive, Hung turned his car around and ran him over again, almost hitting a passer-by who was trying to rescue the old man.

Family members of Hung, who is a high-tech worker, tried to lessen his guilt on the grounds that the young man often went out drinking at night because of the heavy pressures of his job.

Drunken driving is against the law, in any shape or form. Besides, how can Hung's evil values -- killing a man who he had already injured -- be justified? Was this mere "losing control" after getting intoxicated?

What has happened to Taiwan's young men, two of whom have been shown to lack the courage to face up to their crimes, behaving so irresponsibly that their family members have had to face the aftermath on their behalf?

Another shocking story is that of a middle school girl who gave birth on campus. It turned out that the baby's father was the girl's grandfather. When did Taiwan become so incestuous?

And how can this young girl have her "fourth dream" of seeking true love, if not enough counseling and other assistance are given to allow her to have a normal life?

When society's values are crumbling, the younger generation loses its moral compass. When the younger generation loses the ability to dream, society loses the momentum to move forward.

Taiwan is in danger of losing both its values and its dreams. The negative forces that are eating into this society as a result must not be ignored. (Editorial abstract -- May 6, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)