I recently attended an event where the speaker seemed to take great joy in mocking all the millennials in the crowd. (The generation of millennials, also known as Generation Y starts with those born in the 1980’s and ends with those born in the 2000’s.) They marched up to a group of teenagers sitting in the front row and said: “If something I say hurts your feelings, we have a safe space set up over here for you.” That was mild considering the barrage of insults that followed. There was nervous laughter in the room - except I wasn’t laughing. I sat there thinking that there was a wasted opportunity to speak life into those kids sitting there. The very same kids who deal with school shootings as normal and still get up and go to class every day. Those “marshmallows” as everyone loves to call them - all have their own shooting stories. My own daughter was a freshman in college when a gunman burst through the door of the library and started shooting. She saw the injured and was evacuated to a basement where she and fellow students hid for three hours. I don’t know what you all were doing when you were in college but I’m almost positive it wasn’t that. Guess what she did a few days later? Got up and went to class.
Now before all you pull out “back in my day” stories to defend your position - let me tell you a few stories of my own. I was in high school in the early 80’s and I never ever had a single thought that someone would fly planes into buildings and kill thousands. Back in my day, I just went to school and never had a moment where I thought about someone bursting through the door of my classroom and killing me. When I was growing up there wasn’t this insidious unlimited news cycle. I remember when flying was fun! I remember having tons and tons of free time to play and enjoy my friends and family. There was time to disconnect and just enjoy being in the moment. Then we invented this little thing called the internet and it offered constant entertainment and information. It made our world smaller and made us more aware of the injustices suffered all over the world. For many of us - the internet became our drug of choice offering up neverending porn, racism, all kinds of ugliness hidden behind the anonymity of a screen. For our children, the unlimited screen access was their constant companion and babysitter. Never before had children been exposed to this amount of stimuli and none of us really understood the dangers of it. Not just the dangers of it for our kids but for us as well.
Every generation has been maligned in one way or another - but here’s what we need to keep in mind: these kids didn’t raise themselves we raised them. And we are missing an incredible opportunity to love and guide them. They are amazing kids and instead of lumping them all into one negative category and bashing them - how about we get to know them and walk alongside them? Imagine the difference that you could make in the life of one of these fellow human beings.