When I think of my generation (and I use the term broadly, covering a wide span of people who were born in post-Liberation War Bangladesh), I cannot help but notice an inherent sense of entitlement in the way we think, talk, speak.
It comes, one supposes, as a result of having seen everything, but having experienced nothing. A by-product of technology, we have witnessed the miracles of the world through an OLED screen, or have had the privilege of travelling thanks to the wealth many of our parents and guardians have accumulated.
We want more, hurt more easily; demand that we are treated with respect, complain when things do not go as planned. It is almost as if the world we have inherited, in which we have been in many ways given everything (how broadly you define “everything” might also vary), is far from perfect.
It is as if there is anything at all to be dissatisfied with in the world we have.
An op-ed bemoaning and highlighting the frailties of our generation was published some time last week and, if one exercises a perfunctory glance at the state we find ourselves in, one can see why.
From the perspective of a generation that has experienced the Liberation War first-hand and survived it, watched their loved ones be brutally raped and murdered, and then struggled through the worst days of Bangladesh’s existence, to witness the worries we deal with may seem like nothing short of a joke.
We grew up in an era where the internet, possibly the most revolutionary invention in mankind’s history, where we have every single nugget of information and most resources at our fingertips, was in existence.
We have cars which take us from one place to another with relative ease, air conditioners which ensure that the temperature is just about perfect, maids and chauffeurs who do our every bidding.
We have the limitless opportunities that a smaller world provides, connecting us to people and places all over the world, as it rests ever so neatly and calmly in the palms of our hands.
And we have the audacity to complain that our lives are far from perfect?
You cannot create hell and provide it with a heaven screensaver and expect us to be thankful
The defense rests
Let me tell you something about us: We did not ask to be born. And definitely not in this world you have provided for us.
Let us not pretend that we were given birth to by some selfless desire from our parents. It was a selfish impulse to pass on their genes, or an implicitly forced decision by their respective societies.
While I admire, to some extent, people whose worldview thrives on positivity, on optimism, on being grateful for what life offers, for their parents, this is not a deal we willingly made.
While I admire, too, the struggles of our forefathers, to make such comparisons is not fair.
Let us consider the world we find ourselves in.
Let us look at the number of people that our parents gave birth to, thereby creating excessive demand for resources which we once had plenty of.
Let us take a dive into the ocean, and see how blatantly our forefathers ignored the sanctity of the environment, as the Great Barrier Reef dies, as the ice caps melt, as the water level rises, as a white rhino breathes its last, as a fish suffocates on a plastic bag.
Let us momentarily glance at the blackening sky, and the air which we can barely breathe.
Let us look at Bangladesh, and how our forefathers destroyed a fledgling nation from the root up, infusing corruption into its very core.
Let us look at the audacity of a generation that has flung us into a world without our will, provided us with the pseudo-opportunity that the false dream of capitalism provides, and claims that we do not have the decency to appreciate the idea of becoming a corporate slave in their behemothic money-making machines.
Forgive us, for we have demanded equal rights, social justice, and care for the environment. We have highlighted the importance of mental health and better eating, of green technology.
You cannot create hell and provide it with a heaven screensaver and expect us to be thankful. And do not get me wrong, I understand that that we are each responsible, after a certain point, for the things we do.
But when does the responsibility start? At childbirth? As teenagers, as adults, as a 35-year-old anxiously pondering the purpose to life?
Do not get me wrong, we are entitled, brash, full of ourselves, in Bengali terms: “Oversmart.” We think we know oh-so-much because we were able to go to New York to do our undergrad or visited 12 countries by the time we were 15 and speak English without accent or grammatical error.
I see it in the cousin who sits home and plays games all day, in the colleague who works three hours a day and expects to be paid double what her parent used to make at the same age, in me as I write this article, bemoaning our lack of physical trauma.
But, do not think for a second that the world that you created is anything close to ideal. It struggles to breathe, as we do. Spoilt, overburdened by information, traumatized by choice, devoid of struggle and meaning, we are a paradoxical generation.
And we want things to be better. I’m sure you can understand.
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.