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September 25, 2017

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Responsible individuality in a culture of 'momma's boys'

After a 21-year-old college student named Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) decided to carry out his plan to accomplish "something big" on May 21, he took four people's lives and injured 24 in a killing spree on a Taipei Metro train. Society was shaken and devastated by this seemingly meaningless act of terror. Everyone was crying and shouting for an answer to this tragedy. When Cheng refused to apologize for what he did, the furious crowd turned to his parents, demanding that they step up and make an appropriate apology for their son.

With that demand comes a question: why should Cheng's parents apologize to society for the actions of their son? When his parents issued a written statement to express their regrets over the killing spree, some people blamed them for not showing up to plead for forgiveness. When his parents showed up at the crime scene, saying they were sorry for what happened in shivery voices while kneeling down to the ground, some people still yelled at them and said that no apology could bring back the deceased.

It doesn't seem like society will be satisfied, no matter what Cheng's parents do. Most people seem to forget that Cheng is not a juvenile anymore. He is an educated 21-year-old adult who should be responsible for his actions. He can vote to determine the nation's future, and he has received education not only from his family but also from the schools he attended.

However, we live in a culture that tends to point fingers at parents for what their children do wrong. If a person, especially a student, makes any mistakes, people automatically assume that that person's parents did not do their jobs. With this expectation and demand from society, many parents become "helicopter parents" who constantly hover over their adult children to make sure everything is OK.

Maybe it is easier to blame the parents and ask them to be responsible for their children's behavior, but this trend simply introduces more and more notorious "momma's boys" into society. Many people start to lose their ability to be independent and responsible. They never apologize for what they do because, to them, they are always right. Even when other people put evidence of the harmful things they have done under their noses, they somehow have the ability to soft-pedal the truth and move on with their lives.

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