My fellow Young Adult brothers and sisters in Christ: I fear that we face an all-time low in generational attitudes towards one another in American society.
A great deal of misplaced anger and blame is focused on the members of our generation, the Millennials. The older generations, namely the Baby Boomers, often describe us as the Selfish Generation. We are a generation of spoiled, entitled, do-nothings who don’t understand the meaning of hard work, responsibility, or civic virtue.
Many times, I am often shocked and angered by this generational scapegoating. If some of the rhetoric thrown at us were used to describe any other group it would be toward older generations on our part. We feel marginalized, disaffected, and cut off from the power to make decisions. The classic John Mayer song “Waiting on the World to Change” comes to mind. In the song, Mayer notes:
“Me and all my friends/We're all misunderstood /They say we stand for nothing and/There's no way we ever could /Now we see/everything that's going wrong/With the world and those who lead it/We just feel like we don't have the means/To rise above and beat it/So we keep waiting/Waiting on the world to change/We keep on waiting/Waiting on the world to change.”
The song accurately captures those feelings of disaffection and frustration our generation often feels. However, if you go back to the 90s, 80s, 70s, and 60s, you’ll see that all generations have at some point shared this sentiment. Just look at the Beatles’ “Revolution” or The Who’s “My Generation.” Perhaps we have more in common than we think?
We are a generation born of crisis who have and will have immense responsibilities foisted on us. If you’re my age (26), then your first experience of how terrible and cruel human beings could be to one another was 9/11, and you watched the events unfold on your TV screen in confusion and horror. Our generation has grown up in the shadow of two wars, natural disasters like Katrina, political scandals like Abu Ghraib, and the historic election of America’s first black president. In the midst of this turbulence, hardship, and sacrifice, we are saddled with the collective debt of our nation and our individual debts to student loans.
In the midst of a rapidly changing world, we feel as though we have lost our voice. How do we reclaim it? I think the key to a new future is the value of humility. Jesus Christ was a humble man, a carpenter born into relative poverty in an obscure and unimportant region in the world. The call to follow this carpenter is a call to take on humility. We cannot count on grand gestures, nor can we “wait on the world to change” in order to make the changes we seek. That path only leads to further resentment and cynicism. Through humility, we retain perspective even as we gain the wisdom that comes with experience and the power that comes through age. Through humility, we learn to listen to each other, our elders, and speak that still, small voice of God’s Spirit into a rushing world of strife and anger. The key to the future and a path forward is through a humble man’s sojourn through a weary world.
Discussion Questions: When was the last time you spoke to a member of an older generation about their life and experiences? What wisdom did you gain from that conversation?
To see more devotions from Kyle and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself, visit our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.