IN DEFENSE OF “MILLENNIALS”
“But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age.” (Wisdom of Solomon 4: 7-9)
The “young” adults of today, known as “millennials,” (defined by an online-dictionary as “people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century”), often, although not always, get a bad rap from us older folks. They are, as far as the negative stereotype goes, self-entitled narcissists, overly-dependent on their parents, delaying the “adulthood” of marriage or starting a career, and focused more on “image” and social media than on hard work and personal responsibility. Aside from the obvious problems with any stereotype, the Wisdom-passage quoted above, as well as my own experience, warn me against “ageism” (i.e., “prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age” – according to the same online-dictionary) with respect to our “young” adults.
I realize I can’t do justice to the complex topic in this brief post, but let me say a few words in defense of millennials, at least those who have comprised most of the “crew” that has worked for me at “Coffee-HQ” over the last few years. It is true, they are not slaves to “work,” as perhaps we or our parents were, – but they also don’t tend to suffer the consequences, of “burnout,” as did many of us in the past. Millennials, often saddled with college-debt, and with the increasingly-disorienting culture of the Internet Age and of a globalized economy, which has them moving from place to place (both virtually and real-ly), often tend to have given up on purely-materialistic ambition, and are hence hungry and “ripe” for something “more,” beyond the “success” on offer within our time and space. And it’s true, many of them seem to opt to “delay” marriage, but they do so in our globalized world, in which socializing/meeting with a like-minded and/or appropriate “partner” is more difficult, and in the age of Tinder, when many of them have been weathered with more “gray hair” of “understanding” about the consequences of so-called “casual” sex. But actually, sociological research from 2016 shows that the generation of “millennials” is “having less sex than any generation before it.” And although I don’t presume to know what this data will “mean” for millenniums & marriage in the long-run (because “the jury is still out” about that), it certainly doesn’t exclude the possibility that they are being more careful and discerning about marriage, which, for the previous generation of married people in Western countries, ends in divorce 42-50% of the time.
Lord, help us to learn from one another, and encourage one another, whatever the benefits or deficits of our age-group are. “For ‘old age’ is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years.”