Earlier this week, I met with an old friend I had not seen in some years. She is a Baby-Boomer with children ages 17-22. I am a Gen Xer with 9 and 10-year-old children. I mention this because I think it played a role in our ensuing debate.
My friend shared her sorrow and fear for what she was sure would happen to our country and our planet in the coming decades. Our economy would not rebound, citizens would become less informed and engaged, and there was virtually no hope for recovery.
I listened to her prophecy, and was immediately saddened. I wondered if others were also feeling such despair. I tend to be slightly more optimistic, but not naive. I do clearly understand the challenges we face, but I look to the future with so much hope. Perhaps it is because my children are younger, more informed than any generation before them due to our relationship with technology, and prone to activism. I wondered if my hope was because of my faith in my own children, or in an entire generation.
Eric Greenberg talks about the power up this Millennial generation, a generation which he calls, Generation We.
A Powerful Generation with a Different Worldview
The worldview of the Millennial generation is shaped by two overriding dynamics that set this generation apart from those that have come before them. The first is a commitment to the common good over individual gain, an ethos that reaches across traditional divisions such as race, ideology, and partisanship. The Millennials are not a “Generation Me” but rather a “Generation We.” They are strongly progressive, socially tolerant, environmentally conscious, peace-loving, and poised to lead the biggest leftward shift in recent American history. They volunteer in record numbers and declare themselves ready to sacrifice their self-interest for the greater good. They do not fit neatly into any classic ideological category and are clearly eager to establish a new paradigm.
The second dynamic that fundamentally shapes the Millennials’ worldview is a comprehensive rejection of the country’s current leadership and dominant institutions. Whether it is Congress and the federal government, major corporations, or organized religion, these young Americans believe the large institutions that dominate so much of our modern society have comprehensively failed, placing narrow self-interests ahead of the welfare of the country as a whole. http://www.gen-we.com/
So I ask, what are we, as Unitarian Universalists, doing to help nurture the potential of this generation, and how do we support them best?