Fear is a primal emotion rooted in our survival instincts. When we don’t have a lot, we fear how we are going to make ends meet. If we have accumulated a lot, we are afraid of losing what we have. Regardless of what we have or not have; it is fear–and not faith–that drives our decision-making process.

In the political arena, risk-adverse voters tend to steer the wheel of their lives towards decisions that appease and assuage their primal fears. Savvy politicians employ a language of vulnerability and survival to incite or instill fear into the hearts of their people–this is regardless of whether they’re looking to maintain the status quo or seeking to dismantle it.

From economic crises, to global terrorism, to racism in your backyard–narratives of fear-mongering are highly effective at gaining traction because they appeal to base human emotions. While some of our fears are well-founded, others are largely irrational–based on historical episodes that are long over. It has ceased to be a reality, but it lives on in our minds as though it were still occurring and recurring like a terrible tape on repeat.

A political party with a track record of success cannot stay that way forever. When we speak of legacy kids, we cannot expect the children of larger-than-life fathers to have even half the calibre that their fathers did. We may have respected the father, but those feelings do not automatically transfer to the son when the father is no longer there to run the show. We place high expectations on legacy kids; and more often than not, the kids fall terribly short.

There are two aspects to legacy succession: passing on your own legacy as well as providing the flexibility and opportunity for the next generation to define and achieve their own legacy–which may or may not be tied to yours.

Second-generation leaders have a lot to contend with. But they will never be as strong or as resilient as the founding fathers and mothers. They were simply not groomed in an environment where their survival instincts were nurtured. The high budgets, the excesses in resources, the lack of accountability, the lack of street smarts; can all lead to short-sighted decision-making due to the absence–as opposed to the abundance–of fear.

Second-generation leaders also tend to stray from the ideals and values of the founding generation. They may use nostalgia to stir long gone emotions in their people, but how long can these outdated emotions linger?

The good old days are gone. And they are not coming back. Why rest on someone else’s laurels? Why not create a legacy that is a departure from that of your forebears? Why not live life having created and lived by your own values–no matter how much it deviates from who they were or the vision they had for your life?

Istana Kampong Gelam, a former Malay palace in Singapore.

Instead, what we see time and time again are hard-won resources that go into big celebrations, trifles and PR stunts; all the while the working and even middle income groups struggle to make ends meet as the cost of living grows exceedingly exorbitant for daily wage earners.

Legacy kids count on the impressive track records of their forebears and claim those accolades as their own. They pretend to care about the common man and woman; when really, they are whole universes apart. They try to buy the affection of their peers and their people with Daddy’s hard-earned money–which they feel entitled to pass off as their own. They employ sneaky political strategies and manoeuvres to invalidate and dismiss people’s concerns. Their logic makes sense to them, but to no one else. They display a marked inability to empathise with most people’s concerns and they find few friends who can empathise with theirs.

Is the legacy kid a disappointment? In a sense. He has had the destination without the journey so he has nowhere to go but down. The best he can hope for is not to dismantle the legacy of his forebears, but even that can be a tough undertaking. The truth is, nothing in this world was ever meant to last. But just because something won’t last doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it or—at the very least try—to ensure that it survives for as long as it can.

How is it that some can do so much with so little; while others can do so little with so much? The resourcefulness that legacy makers show in carving out their legacy is a reminder that no matter the appearance of the outer landscape, life can thrive. Vulnerability is at the heart of what made the founding fathers resilient–not the absence of it. It was not only fear that drove them, but faith. Faith that they could do it.

The lesson for legacy kids is to know that the higher the ascent, the more they are at risk of being struck down. This is precisely why they refuse to redistribute the wealth that is entrusted to their care. They make claims that it impedes competition; all the while the game they are playing is rigged in their favour. They dismiss the notion that privilege exists, all the while, they profit from it. They don’t hear the silent sniggers that people hold in while they talk and ramble on like morons.

They don’t have a mirror to see themselves, because when they look into a mirror; all they see is themselves.

And in their eyes, there is only one blinding emotion–fear.

One thought on “The real reason legacy kids don’t last

  1. A legacy can only last for so long. Once cracks begin to appear, new blood will seep in… It is the inevitable course of destiny.

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