I remember piloting the Kota troopships, a couple of old Dutch built passenger ships* belonging to Singapore's Pacific International Lines (PIL) in and out of Port Klang harbour during the mid 70's. These ships, chartered by the Malaysian army to ferry troops to and from East Malaysia, were usually filled to the brim with whole battalions of soldiers. On one occasion, I recall telling off a very young private who was perched precariously on the ship-side guard rails that he may fall into the sea. Looking at me in the eye, his impudent reply** was most telling, "Tuan, I am not afraid of bullets, so whats a little water?".
Ah, the impertinence of youth. I suppose when you are young you think you are bulletproof and also waterproof. But as a marine pilot who at times were never in full control of difficult situations due to circumstances, I have always believed in Murphy's Law, i.e., if anything can go wrong, it will. An old German former submarine commander once told me that he had no place in his U-boat for any man who did not subscribe to this belief.
So whats with many of today's youngsters? The cocky arrogance, over confidence and unhealthy disregard for convention. They cannot be all doing drugs. Its easy enough to blame parents and parents will in turn conveniently put the blame on Dr Benjamin Spock. Here I believe a bit of love, some discipline and even religion can work wonders, so perhaps there is some hope yet.
Delusions of grandeur, or the mistaken impression that the sun actually shines from your backside, is also a very common malady these days amongst young and old alike. I remember reading in the Ship Captain's Medical Guide years ago that this is actually one of the symptoms of late stage syphilis! So to all those snot nosed kids (and their uppity parents) out there, go see a doctor. Or else get a life. Maybe its not too late.
* M.V. Kota Ratu and Kota Rajah.
** Of course I screamed bloody murder. I stopped engines and told his CO that the ship wasnt going anywhere unless every soldier (there were others) gets his sorry ass off the guard rails ...