Forum: Start to recognise sacrifices of Gen Xers

Pedestrians crossing a road at Raffles Quay on Nov 4, 2019.
Pedestrians crossing a road at Raffles Quay on Nov 4, 2019.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The future belongs to millennials and the older generation should give them room to express themselves ( Are older generations doing right by their young?, Nov 24). Millennials have been raised in an age of plenty and are socialised to speak their minds on issues that concern them. They are tech-savvy and know how to organise themselves to advance their interests.

But have we neglected the needs and aspirations of Gen Xers - those born between 1965 and 1980 - who are sandwiched between being dutiful to their parents and nurturing to their children?

Now that millennials have come of age, are Gen Xers expected to pass on the baton quickly to the more assertive young?

Gen Xers have made sacrifices in their time. Many left school early so as to contribute to the family income. They survived many rounds of economic restructuring and embarked on learning and relearning to stay relevant.

Increasingly, they face redundancy amid technological displacement or competition. When displaced from their jobs, many face the dim prospect of taking on positions with meagre pay and no benefits. They have had to delay gratification time and again so that others can have more.

Have we taken Generation X for granted?

Hong Kong is a poor reference point. The lid on what many young people in Singapore consider natural rights is tightly closed for their counterparts in Hong Kong. The protests in Hong Kong are a consequence of pent-up discontent boiling over.

We are blessed with democracy, enshrined in the sacrosanct right to vote. In many ways, the young here grew up under different conditions.

Have we neglected the needs and aspirations of the Gen Xers... who are sandwiched between being dutiful to their parents and nurturing to their children?

Sure, we should give young people the space to be heard. But they should not be raised on "cry and you shall be given", holding the older generation to ransom.

Now that many Gen Xers are entering the end of their economically productive years, should they not be respected just as those who came before them have been?

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2019, with the headline 'Start to recognise sacrifices of Gen Xers'. Print Edition | Subscribe