Thu, Apr 27, 2017 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Fighting or whining?

Wednesday last week’s pension reform protest from supposedly the most civil and educated group of people has reminded us of the Sunflower movement, which saw the participation of college students and professors from prestigious schools.

How these two groups of intellectuals expressed their discontent with policies prompts us to evaluate “protest” itself: Were the protesters fighting for a good cause or simply whining?

Do we apply different standards of “civil disobedience” to justify the Sunflower movement and the pension reform protest? Do we tend to glorify youngsters’ deeds and stigmatize the retirees living on pensions? What is the line between being brave and being rude? Is guarding personal well-being less important than maintaining collective interests?

Pension reform protesters are persistent and unapologetic, because they wonder what is wrong with fighting for one’s own benefits, which the government once promised.

It is human nature to have a sense of deprivation when personal interests are being hurt. However, in this case, this fear is not justified because the reformed pension funds can still sustain one’s “basic need” for retirement.

Taiwan Education Retirees Association spokesman Hsiao Chiu-hua (蕭秋華) stressed that there are more people struggling to live on their pension, but illustrated his “inconvenience” by talking about the cost of attending his son’ s graduation ceremony in the US and neglected mentioning more promising financial prospects after pension reform.

The astonishing remarks made by Wu Wan-gu (吳萬固) on behalf of Chuang Hua retired military, public and teaching personnel provide another example.

Furious about the reform, Wu rationalized the beating of legislators by stating that people might even kill when irritated to the point of craziness.

It is dangerous when people refuse to propose constructive comments on pension reform proposals, but rather keep stressing their own feelings and false values.

Wu’s rash actions and speech, like Hsiao’s difficulty, reflects their refusal to put themselves in others’ shoes. They are not fighting for generational justice; they are simply whining about their anxiety toward change.

As a supporter of pension reform, I do not think of pensioners as “accomplices” who have to “sacrifice” their welfare to compensate for their guilt. In criticizing the opponents, I do not consider them necessarily selfish or negligent on a personal level either.

Instead, I think that civil servants generally lack the awareness that we are not only the objects, but also the subjects of national policy. When policy no longer fits with reality, if we keep sticking to that policy and refuse to see the problems, we are either deepening social misunderstanding or marching toward self-destruction.

Chuang Yu-chuan

Yilan

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