I’m not under some delusion that the individuals of the previous generations were all hardened, responsible, and hardworking adults. I’m sure there were foolish, entitled, weak men and women amongst the older generations as well. Despite this, millennials in particular have received a lot of condemnation and disapproval. Do not misunderstand me, I do see tears and stains in the fabric of our younger people but those stains and rips were not just self-inflicted. You can’t fully blame someone for not being able to sew if they’ve never been shown how, nor given the proper resources.
You hate my generation? You despise us because we’re lazy, godless, and of weak constitution? If so, you might want to look in the mirror because you are progenitors. You are the fathers and mothers. You are the coaches; we came halfway into a losing football game. You handed us a baton and told us to run. And we ran, we ran ourselves in circles to genderless bathrooms, a disbelief in truth, and an affinity for childlike adults. You handed us a baton when we were already off the track. So you are mad at me? You’re frustrated that pornography has become normalized, that definite genders are near extinct, that children don’t have two parents, that honor and morality are despised by society? Well I’m frustrated too but we didn’t achieve this in two or three decades. You helped us get here with bad ideology, weak churches, lack of discipleship, no engagement of culture, bad philosophy and the erosion of the family.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ll complain to my children one day about their generation because I already hate my generation (the way we can’t converse because we’re stuck in our tech, the way we’re selfish, and the way we stand for nothing but fall for everything) but I’ll also know it’s my fault. It’s already my fault. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Maybe we should all acknowledge we’re to blame for this, then maybe we can all acknowledge our responsibility in moving forward. May the Lord help us move forward because we’re in a downward spiral. As G.K. Chesterton said, “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth. This has been exactly reversed. . . The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. . . We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced.”
In this area G.K. Chesterton was quite prophetic. He wrote this many, many years ago but these words ring powerfully true. Our professors, philosophers, politicians and college students doubt the existence of truth, absolute morals and gender. This tree has been growing a long time, how long do you think the roots have been grounded beneath? Longer than my life, and the life of my friends. That tree has been planted for a long time, our fathers and mothers, and their fathers and mothers watered it and then blamed its growth on us. This isn’t new. I’m pretty sure all generations think the following generation is the worst. I really think we have some issues but so did those who came before us. Now let’s get over that and work to make it better. We have some serious replanting and gardening to do. As I have shifted some of the blame off myself you might be thinking, “what a millennial thing to do!” and even if your generalization is correct, did I get here alone?
The solution is not complaining about or hating the millennials. Instead of ranting about how much better things were back in the day (I know you walked to school uphill in the snow, my dad told me), do something. What can be done? Get involved with millennials or even younger people. Teach a Sunday school class, meet with some young men for prayer. Invite some guys over to watch football. Help someone build a resume and find a job. Just do something, love and invest in someone. On the other side of the spectrum, if you are someone who has rightly been told to grow up and be an adult, take that advice. Grow up because this world doesn’t owe you and when you fall you have to be able to get back up.
I remember there were Saturday nights where my dad would drag me outside and try to teach me how to change the oil in the car. Sadly, my eyes were glued to the television, worse, my mind was closed to learning anything mechanical. But he tried and he kept trying and because of that persistence sometimes there was success.
I have a father, more than that I have a good father. He taught me things like discipline but he also encouraged me. I remember we would be raking leafs outside and I’d ask if we could quit because the sun had already gone down. He would firmly answer, “no” and push us to keep working by streetlight. He taught me to be honest, to work hard, and to have integrity.
If you think my generation is full of spoiled, lazy brats then you did something wrong. Perhaps you were a good father like mine, maybe you taught your sons and daughters the meaning of a good day’s work. Maybe you taught your children about truth and morality. Maybe you didn’t do any of that. Maybe you inadvertently taught your children to be self-entitled over-sensitive babies. That’s partly your fault; some blame rest on your shoulders. So if you hate my generation you cannot escape the fact that you were our teachers, parents, coaches and grandparents. Yes, we’re ultimately responsible for ourselves but you might have done something wrong. If I haven’t invested in my fellow millennials or in those younger than myself, I’ve done something wrong. It’s time to do something right, stop complaining, start investing.
Photograph by Matheus Olivera