Young people are credited with many things. They are optimistic, idealistic, and bereft of emotional baggage that usually encumbers their older counterparts. They are open to other points of view, technologically adept, and free from the prejudices that colored how their elders saw the world.
These recent weeks, the spotlight has been on the young, newly elected government officials trying to make their mark.
The display of political will is heartening. Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso easily comes to mind. In just a few weeks, he has set the example of clearing the sidewalks notorious for the chaos and crime that has plagued the city for decades. Domagoso had desolate beginnings but through sheer grit made it to city hall.
Other younger mayors are showing that new approaches to governance are more effective than what their constituents have grown used to. Their three-year terms are long, but at least they are off to a promising start.
To say that all young people in government are beacons of hope, however, would be a gross miscalculation.
Remember the erstwhile chairman of the National Youth Commission, Ronald Cardema, whom we first noticed for saying that government scholars who criticize the government should be stripped of their scholarships. Later, he tried to substitute himself as the representative of the Duterte Youth party-list in Congress when he was, in fact, overage. He was also accused of using his Executive post to campaign for the party.
And now another newcomer in Congress, the nominee of Ang Probinsyano party-list, is in the news for less than flattering reasons.
Rep. Alfred delos Santos punched a waiter at a Legazpi City restaurant on Sunday. CCTV footage of the incident circulated in succeeding days. The waiter reported the incident to the police but did not press charges.
Such a display of arrogance and entitlement is a sorry reminder that not all young people are bent on improving on what the previous generation put in front of them. Instead they could be a product of the sins and mindsets they grew up with in the past.
While no individual is completely good or completely bad, these new public officials must always hold themselves to a higher standard. Their acts, or omissions, will not just be felt today. How they behave in public or in private will reflect who they really are, and will tell the rest of us if indeed there is cause for hope—or whether we are just looking at a replay of old follies.