Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example to the believers in what you say, how you behave, in love, faith and holiness. – 1 Timothy 4:12
I have a pet peeve I want to air this morning. Here it is: I’m tired of all the Millennial-bashing. Personally, I have a lot of confidence in this generation of young adults. We don’t have to look far to see who screwed up the world so badly and – fact check – it’s not the Millennials, it’s the people doing the complaining!
“Growing Culture of Ignorance”
One recent post I read implicated young adults in “the dumbing down of America.” I countered with, “I’ll agree there’s a growing culture of ignorance in America… but I don’t think it’s the young so much as the rigid and the intolerant among us. There’s a resistance to scholarship, to honest inquiry, and to intelligent dialogue – especially in politics and matters of faith. I think there’s damaging ignorance in the celebration of nostalgia, in the knee-jerk rejection of social progress, and in rote adherence to ideals rooted more in 1950’s social norms than the open heart of Jesus.”
Then my friend Bryan – a Methodist minister – weighed in. It’s a long quote, but most definitely worth reading:
I think so much of the war on public education, higher education, and general disdain for Millennials is rooted in that idea you (Derek) put forward; namely that they are rejecting the societal norms that suggest Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show represented the apex of American culture and values. Millennials reject those notions, reject surface readings of the Bible, and are very skeptical of people who coming in yelling and screaming and demanding that all acquiesce.
Older generations have blamed public education and liberal colleges and liberal pastors and whatever else they can, because they often don’t want to recognize that they might actually have been wrong on a variety of things, and they might have participated in systematic injustices without even realizing it. It’s a hard pill to swallow and the older we get, the less likely we are to be willing to swallow it. But a lot of Millennials don’t care and don’t have time to pat our tender heads. They are moving on, embracing the things from the past that make sense, and rejecting most others. I’m all for it, but it’s scary to some.
What’s funny is that the word “snowflake” gets tossed around all the time, often at Millennials, but most older generations are the ones that cannot in any way stomach change, alternative viewpoints, or awareness of reality. Who are the real snowflakes? I will post things about racism or helping refugees and the people who push back the hardest and write angry things are older people. They tend to get agitated by anything that doesn’t fit in their limited worldview while younger generations are happy to discuss and debate. It’s never all or none, plenty of older folks are willing to talk and plenty of Millennials are jerks, but there are definitely trends there.
Here’s Bryan’s bottom line: “They tend to get agitated by anything that doesn’t fit in their limited worldview… while younger generations are happy to discuss and debate.”
Nostalgia is always stuck in the past…
The problem with nostalgia is its deep deceptions and its intrinsic falsehoods. Most “good old days” references are a hybrid of amnesia, selective memory, idealized yearnings for what never was, and a fear of responding to God’s call to live fully engaged lives today.
Rather than lambast the younger generations, those of us who are still willing to learn should be eager to engage them in meaningful conversation, encourage their enthusiasm, help them learn from our many mistakes, and then roll up our sleeves and join them in moving forward.
Because forward is the only direction we can possibly go as children of God and followers of Jesus.
Like I’ve been saying for a long time – I love this new generation! – DEREK