Brunei Darussalam celebrated its 28th National Day on Thursday this week at the capital's Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) in front of the SOAS mosque right smack in the center of town. Thousands of school children, companies and organizations in uniformed attire, all waving mini Brunei flags, marched in military precision to show their love for king and country. The army, navy and police personnel, resplendent in their uniforms, were no less patriotic. There was a colorful field show emphasizing "My Country Brunei Darussalam" which is the theme of this year's National Day. The show culminated in a patriotic cry of "Merdeka!" (Or Independence!), rejoicing in our 28 years of independence.
In human terms, 28 years would put you pretty much in the middle of young adulthood. As a 28 year old, you would have completed your education and have just embarked on a career. You still have youthful energy and enthusiasm, should as yet be unjaded but with life starting to get more serious. Some would categorize you as being part of “Generation Y”.
Western marketers have divided the generations into easy segmentation to understand a little bit more in what makes or drives a person, though some say this is only to make it easy to sell things.
First you have the generation of Baby Boomers, those who where born in the peace and stability of the years just after the Second World War. Sociologists have defined the characteristics of the Baby Boomers as work-centric, independent, goal oriented and competitive. In the West, this generation was born into difficult years, but in the fifties and sixties life became more prosperous. They grew up during the uncertainties of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Although competitive and goal oriented, those growing up in the sixties and seventies experienced a cultural revolution emphasizing individual liberty and self-expression.
Generation X followed the Baby Boomers, known to be individualistic, technologically adept, flexible and valuing a work/life balance. Born into the relative economic prosperity of the late sixties and seventies, these are the children of the Baby Boomers. This is my generation. We did not face down the great communist threat, we did not build nations, we watched films such as “Reality Bites” and “Slackers” and worried that our future would not be the present of our parents.
A 28 year old in 2012 would be classified as coming from Generation Y. This is the generation that are tech-savvy, family centric, achievement oriented, team oriented and attention craving. Generation Y could be said to have not suffered the angst of Generation X. Is it unfair of me to say that the work of the previous generations have been taken for granted? Generation Y is perhaps a little bit more comfortable of their place in the world.
As a country that has celebrated 28 years of independence, can we really define ourselves as Generation Y?
I don't think so. Any nation is made up of diverse demographics.
Let's not forget that we did not gain independence on the 23rd of February 1984, but resumed it. In a sense, Brunei is both young and very old, almost 1300 years in fact.
But for an aging Gen X such as myself, age is nothing but a number. It is what is inside that counts, and for a nation, it is the quality of its people and its institutions.
Happy Resumption of Independence Day Brunei.
Illustration by Cuboi Art.
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