Maligned and Misunderstood Millennials

2 07 2020

Anyone besides me tired of hearing people condemn and criticize millennials?

Every generation has it’s strengths and it’s flaws, and as the father of three millennial children, and the father-in-law to two more, I see a generation that is no better or worse than any other. Never-the-less, while generalizations can be dangerous, when it comes to societal change and the eradication of social ills, I see far more good in the lives of millennials than many people seem willing to admit!

Countless books and articles have been written proclaiming millennials to be the real ‘me’ generation. Among other things, they have been accused of being lazy, entitled, and narcissistic; and I want to challenge all three of those descriptions.

First, there is a difference between being lazy, and simply rejecting most busters’ and boomers’ workaholism and unbridled passion for accumulation and material abundance. All of my children are hard workers, but they also know that they don’t live to work. They work to live! And that realization is an important one. Working hard allows them to play hard, and both are critical to healthy living. As a result, they are enjoying productive, joy-filled, and balanced lives.

Second, I don’t see a sense of entitlement so much as I see a concern for and a commitment to basic human rights. For millennials, it is absurd that in one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations on the face of the earth, there is still a debate about whether or not health care should be guaranteed for all people, or whether or not hunger and homelessness are societal evils that need to be eradicated. What some see as entitlement, and still others regard a form of socialism, the millennials I know simply regard so many of the issues being debated today as a matter of basic civility. And the kindness and compassion they seek to display should not be condemned, but rather celebrated! Perhaps it will be the millennials that lift America to that place where our Founders stood, and where so much of the rest of the world already stands: that place of liberty and justice for all.

Finally, and most importantly, millennials appear to be the least narcissistic of the generations that are still around today. More than both boomers and busters, millennials are well able to put themselves in another’s shoes, and to see things from differing perspectives. And this is most evident in the social change that they have been ushering in for the past several years. As the first generation unwilling to place boundaries on who people should be allowed to love and marry, it was the millennials who led the way in changing society’s attitudes towards gay marriage. And while they were certainly standing on the shoulders of several generations of activists that had gone before them, they are the ones who finally led society across the rainbow, into a world that understands “love is love is love!

Further, it appears to be the millennials who are leading society to that place down by the river, where the chariot swings low, and where all people truly shall, overcome! Once again, while people of color have been pursuing justice for 400 years, today that movement is being led by millennials! Perhaps, finally, change is gonna come. And if it does, it will be with millennials leading the way. They appear to have little tolerance for injustice, and are quicker than many of the rest of us, to give up their privilege and power for the sake of others. Almost all of the Black Life Matters organizers are under the age of 40, and they have taken up the mantra and ministry of MLK and the countless other people of color who have gone before them, pursuing a more equitable and just, nation and world.

Millennials have also effectively chipped away at the rigid gender stereotypes that have confined and constrained people for generations; and while gun control appears to be taking a little longer, should common sense restrictions ever be placed upon the Second Amendment, that too will likely be the result of well educated, responsible, and socially active millennials.

So let’s cut our kids some slack! Maybe we’ve done a better job raising them than we think. No, they are not perfect! But the ones I know are more passionate, empathetic, and socially responsible, than some of us will ever be. And maybe, just maybe, they will be able to do for our nation and our world, what we have been unable to do.



One response

2 07 2020

🙂 xoxo

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