I don’t get angry very often.
One thing that reliably makes my blood boil is all the articles talking about how lazy, entitled, and self-interested Millennials are. Older generations want to wag their finger at the younger generation for all the bad they are creating, anything new they are bringing to the table that challenges the old way of being.
First, a quick list of what Millennials have inherited from the older generations:
- An economic system designed to return money to the wealthy at the expense of the poor
- Fewer and fewer jobs, even for those who have jumped through the hoops of college and graduate school (something the older generations said was necessary and noble)
- A planet that is rapidly destabilizing because of overconsumption and insufficient care for future generations
- A belief system where someone’s worth is dependent on how many hours of work they put in on the job
- A belief system where someone’s worth is dependent on how much wealth and material possessions they have amassed
- An idea that men should not feel emotions, should repress everything so they can not be “bitches”
- An economic system that regularly compensates men more highly than women for equal work and chastises women for things men are praised and respected for
- A political system where money can buy influence and politicians regularly work to disenfranchise their own constituents
- A belief system that our bosses somehow know better than us and we should just do what we’re told
This is not meant to shame anyone or suggest that our situation is hopeless. It’s also not meant to suggest that we Millennials don’t have faults and issues that we should examine more closely and come to terms with. It’s meant to point out all the great challenges we have inherited and now have to deal with.
How absurd it is for a generation who has created these circumstances to get on its high horse and criticize a younger generation who has inherited so many deep, profound challenges. How short-sighted to not see that addressing these challenges will require an entirely new way of thinking than that which created them. How silly to criticize us for behavior and beliefs that are a direct reaction to how you raised us.
Every generation is unique. Every generation has something brilliant to offer. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
I honor older generations for what they have contributed to our way of being. Yes, they have left us with many challenges. Yes, their letters to us are getting pretty annoying. But they have brought something new to the table that never existed before. We couldn’t step in our way of being without them having done the same.
But I also love Millennials. We are committed to sustainability. We are committed to work-life balance. We are committed to justice and equity for all. We are committed to thinking in systems. We want purpose in life, something more than just amassing a bunch of money. I’d go as far to say Millennials have the potential to be the most transformative and positive generation in the history of the world. We are not there yet, but we are also still young, still stepping into ourselves.
Millennials, be proud of what you bring. And know that every article talking about how corrupt and deficient we are is simply a reflection of older generations’ sadness and anger that we have rejected the beliefs and systems that they have handed down to us. We’ve found their way of being to be deeply lacking and are creating our own way.
And… let’s remember, our children will also step into a completely new way of being. It will almost certainly appear foreign and wrong to us. We will inevitably write articles decrying this next generation for all its perceived faults and weaknesses. We will inevitably think their music is garbage.
And we will almost certainly be wrong. Because that’s how life works. The next stage in our evolution will always appear unwise and foolish in the eyes of those who have come before.