I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and postings on the Net lately about Millennials. And a lot of it is very derogatory and carries an overall tone of blame. Blame for what? Apparently, there is a blame game now where if it looks like you’ll be delayed in reaching some of society’s dictated milestones, such as marriage, children, and owning a home, then you are defective.
In fact, people falling in this category are more than just defective. They are downright utter failures. And those in this generation acquiring a higher education are also called fools for racking up student loan debt.
Of course, if you visit the pages like LinkedIn, the general tone is that if you’re having difficulty achieving the American Dream, regardless of who you are but especially if you’re a Millennial, it’s because you are incompetent and lazy and simply haven’t learned to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It’s also assumed that you do not know how to prioritize your purchasing power and always spend beyond your means.
If you were only like the commentator who walked 20 miles to school each day, uphill, both ways, and forwent buying so much as a candy bar until they could afford to buy a falling apart car with the money they earned mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs until they became a self-made . . . blah, blah, blah . . . judgmental bigot?
I find such types of gross over-generalizations to be pretty ignorant.
And usually the people mouthing such things have little clue as to the societal pressures and barriers that face any upcoming generation, or any specific individual for that matter. Simply put, we’ve grown up in different worlds. And multiple different worlds at that.
Not just separations in years and technological advances, but separations in class hierarchy, educational opportunity, the ability to build monetary or material wealth, and even the power to effect change. And those disparities are increasing daily as those in power continue to focus solely on consolidating their own wealth and power at the expense of all others.
As a side note, I distinguish monetary and material wealth, because there are really some things far more valuable to build, like peace of mind. Maybe I’ll circle back to that later.
But if you want to get a real sense for what matters to the individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st Century, the Millennials, I suggest you go to a poetry reading.
I just did that.
And I was really quite impressed. Amazingly impressed! Although, I can balance any coin with hindsight perspective and my own experiential analysis. Not that my thoughts have any real significance, but here goes 🙂
First off, there is energy. Zealous, intensity. High vibrational nuclear blast type of energy! These folks wear their souls on their sleeves.
Idealism. Not necessarily anything new for a younger generation. I remember being full of it. Probably in more ways than one, but I saw the good, the brimming potential, the infinite possibilities for living in harmony and in equity with nature and the human species. All of the finer instruments of technology lending their notes to the melody of no person living in poverty, anywhere in this vast world. All persons having equal access to education, a livable wage, or better yet, no need for a wage. A planet where people lived free from want, from persecution, from the disparities of power, wealth, and influence. A place where everyone could evolve, along with all other species. All life on this miraculous planet in harmony.
They have loads of idealism.
I saw great strength. Move mountains type of fire. Not just survivors, but thrivers. Rising above the many forces that can beat a person down. Projecting ideas with POWER and FORCE. Ricocheting, reverberating, jarring your dormant brain into action through the power of words. Articulate and eloquent. Clever to the point of genius. Words that force a smile. An inverse gravity. A rumble-tumble altercation, blowup, crusher, wrangle of cogitation, disputation, and reflection!
Passion. Such enthusiasm for a cause. Any cause. The type of reach out and want to envelope you type of passion. To entwine souls and dance type of passion. Capture your eyes, ears, taste and touch. Bleed dopamine type of passion!
If you were trying to be numb, these kids (I call anyone under 40 kids) wouldn’t let you be. They’d flood you with every sensation imaginable. Joy, heart-break, strife, fear, courage, rage. They’d defibrillate your heart. Take you to that near-death experience and slam you right back into your chair.
Now I won’t try to capture the full range of issues that were touched upon, but I’d wrap them up in one phrase, social justice.
Now for the critique . . .
Perhaps not so much of a critique as a few observations. While some things have definitely changed and while some issues have grown worse, many of these issues simply haven’t changed and there is little in the way of new light being shined upon them. Us oldsters dealt with them too. We battled. We fought. We clawed. We bled. And the system steamrolled right over us, beating that idealism right the fuck out of us.
BTW, I’m still idealistic 🙂 and optimistic.
When I was this age, my cohort fought against environmental destruction, prejudice, bigotry, poverty, war, racism, sexism, disenfranchisement, reverse ageism, etc., etc., etc. Things have grown worse in that industrial pollution is worse than ever, climate change is an ever-growing threat, and non-toxic food, health care, decent housing, and livable wages are becoming unattainable for more, not less.
I was blessed with wonderful parents and did not have to survive a broken home like many of these young souls. In that regard, I really feel for them. And I have no way to truly relate.
And I will say this. No one can take an education away from you, once earned, despite what critics may say, and that money is well spent, even if it’s hard to recover. In fact, we need more education. It should be tax-payer financed and so much less expensive.
America has been so dumbed down over the years that people have lost the ability to see when they are deceived. They can’t even see their own biases. They don’t understand the difference between logic and false logic.
But while any new articulation on social strife can be brilliant and shine a light on many issues that still need to be addressed, there is also a risk in holding on to all of this angst, despite how wonderfully creative the expression of it can be.
By so intensely starring in the mirror, that one may never see through a window. If the lens is always one of victimization, when will one actually overcome? Or will the roles switch to one of self-victimization, where people hold back believing there’s no point.
Compartmentalize their spirits into cubicles of madness.
The next, unavoidable, mile-marker will come for this generation. And that is the true test.
That’s when the need for self-preservation can overtake this cohesiveness of group energy. It can splinter that solidarity. The coalition needed to attain major societal change.
That self-preservation can turn a rabid, passionate activist into a traditional 8 to 5 drone supporting the hive’s status quo. No individuality in those perfect, identical, hexagonal honeycombs serving only to feed the hierarchy of the existing system.
If that youthful fire dies down, the fuel and oxygen consumed, and if things seem to be hopelessly stagnating, that’s when the power of spirit must shine through.
One should always work toward positive change in any means available, even if it’s simply by not adding more to the chaos that surrounds us. But there is even more power in achieving peace of mind. Of learning to let go of the societal expectations and pressures. And existing freely amidst the chaos.
Regardless of your generation.
And there is certainly no need to bash a generation coming behind us, or, for that matter those ahead of us. Instead, how about focusing on becoming that fire-breathing dragon again!
Photo: Well, I don’t have any photos of a dragon, but this is sort of a miniature dragon. An Iguana. I love its vibrant colors and the magnificent contours of its head. It’s penetrating eyes. It’s forceful. It has purpose. It is symbolic for that free, and bold spirit that lives in harmony. It is life 🙂