Saturday, August 24, 2013

In Defense of the Millennials

In recent years it has become somewhat of a national sport for people my age to rag on the “Millennials,” that generation of Americans between the ages of 21 and 30. They are said to be a bunch of entitled, pampered, crybabies, living rent free in their parent’s basements who spend all day playing video games and whining about how hard they have it, emerging only for the occasional Occupy Wall Street rally. Well, it has been either my good fortune or some cosmic accident, but I have never met anyone that age fitting that description. In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. Because of my involvement working in a church youth ministry for ten years back in the day, it has been my privilege to meet hundreds of millennials, and frankly, I’m getting a little tired of the stereotype.

I can start with my two kids. My son, age 24 is working two jobs putting himself through graduate school in Princeton, New Jersey. My daughter did the same at Wake Forest where she earned her degree in English Literature and is now working feverishly decorating her new 7th grade classroom at Moody Middle School preparing for the onslaught of 100 skulls full of mush that will descend upon her in a couple of weeks baptizing her with fire as a new English teacher.

But, it’s not just my kids. When I look at Facebook, I learn what has become of the hundreds of kids I taught in church, and it is truly inspiring. I see two young men who became missionaries, one in China, the other in Poland. I follow a couple of young women who have gone overseas to volunteer, one in Thailand, the other all over as a participant in the World Race. I see the beautiful pictures of adorable children produced by young couples happily married and gainfully employed. I see a news producer in Kentucky, an Architect in South Carolina, teachers in Charlotte, Nashville, San Diego, and even Minot, North Dakota. I see a Doctor in Birmingham, a chemist in Danville, an engineer and an IT consultant in Richmond. I see a youth minister in Burke, Virginia, and an accountant in Atlanta, Georgia. I know a social worker in Jackson, Tennessee, and an add man in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m absolutely sure that each one of these young people has their share of problems. But I’m equally sure that they are battling through them like all of their ancestors did before them. They are all working, paying taxes, and contributing to their communities. I see each of them as a tremendous source of encouragement about the future, and I’m growing weary of hearing their generation impugned by a bunch of self satisfied 50 year old Boomers who have done their best to screw up the world that these kids are inheriting and will someday have to run.

Are there a bunch of 25 year old losers out there living rent free in their parent’s basements? Sure. Probably about as many as there are 55 years olds busy spending their parent’s inheritance on tummy tucks and face lifts. Each and every generation has its share of reprobates. Don’t worry about the Millennials, these kids are alright!