(Originally Posted as an article for The Odyssey Online)
Millennials are the biggest generation. We have the biggest responsibility to enact change.
One day after the world watched the horrifying shooting involving the attack on Dallas PD, I was scheduled to meet one of my great friends, Paul in Dallas for the weekend. With everything going on, we decided to play it safe and hang out in Ft. Worth the first night. That evening we went to a cool lounge bar. As we were handing the bouncer our ID’s, there was a white cop standing there, probably in his late twenties. Paul is a young black man around the same age. I couldn’t help but look back at the unspoken tension of the situation. Once we got inside the bar and had a drink, I asked Paul if it was uncomfortable given the recent events. He acknowledged he wondered what the officer was thinking of him or if he saw him as a threat. We ran into a few police officers that night and each time, Paul went over quickly and shook their hand or said something kind to them in solidarity.
If you know Paul, you know that he’s a well-dressed, well-spoken, well-educated VP for a financial institution. He is a Christian man. He is open-minded. He and I frequently discuss various world-happenings and we do so in a very respectful open dialogue. Even when we disagree with each other, we listen to the other’s viewpoint. I have an immense amount for respect for him as a person. He is a great role model and friend. I can’t help but feel a bit of disgust for the people who judge Paul or other black people solely on the color of their skin. I also can’t help but feel immense frustration when I see each side of the fence screaming at the other on social media. None of us are any better than the other. We are all people trying to figure out how to best get through life.
People scream louder because they don’t feel heard. Regardless of whether it’s a social movement, political cause or just plain fighting, people want to be heard and understood. They want their beliefs and their fears acknowledged and understood. Even more, it’s also a person’s own insecurities or lack of knowledge that has them lashing out at others. People are driven by insecurities but also by the fear that comes with the unfamiliar.
Recently, at the VMA’s, Alicia Keys showed up bare-faced to continue her #NoMakeup movement. Women, can you imagine, going out and facing hundreds of cameras without a drop of makeup on? Talk about courage. In a world riddled with body shaming and insecurities she was doing something positive. She was taking a stand and showing women and girls that who they are is beautiful without putting on a mask. She was sending a message for women to be proud of who they are and their natural beauty. With girls and guys developing eating disorders, getting injections and worse, how refreshing to see a positive role model. Yet, the ugliness still reared it’s nasty head. Immediately, social media trolls were attacking her, making fun of her, bashing her. So much hatred and ugliness for something so positive.
The LA Times just published an article declaring we are in a time of “Blunt discrimination by police and crisis levels of racism.” Crisis levels of racism. Let that sink in. Crisis levels of racism. For a country who has made great civil strides we are quickly backsliding. It’s a shame.
Whether it’s racism, social issues, feminism issues or political issues there seems to be a trend. People are speaking just to hear themselves. People are spewing hatred. People are just being mean. They are not seeking to understand the other person. They aren’t seeking to understand.
Did you know the Millennial Generation is cited in a study by Goldman Sachs as being the largest generation, even larger than the Baby Boomers. Millennials are cited as having 92M whereas Baby Boomers had 77M. There are different gauges but Time Magazine says Millennials are anyone born between 1980-1995 while others say 1980-2000.
Here are a few Millennial stats for you:
1. 50% of Millennials consider themselves politically unaffiliated.
2. As of 2012, only 19% of Millennials say that others can be trusted.
3. Millennials have the highest number of Facebook friends.
4. 20% of Millennials have at least 1 immigrant parent.
5. Millennials have less faith in religious organizations
The Goldman Sachs article says that Millennials will have a huge impact on the economy as they transition into their peak buying years. What about their huge impact on the world? What legacy are we leaving behind? How are we going to be the change?
Is it any surprise that the majority of the keyboard screamers on social media are Millennials? What are we fighting for? To prove we’re right? To prove our view is the only view?
Did you know, less than 100 years ago men didn’t think women should have the right to vote. Did you know just over 200 years ago Native American’s were forced out of their homes and land because the white man moved here and thought he was entitled to it? How about slavery? It really wasn’t that long ago the white man thought it was ok to have slaves. At the time of all of these events, people thought their way was the only way. Today, it is crazy to think a person can own another person as a slave. It is crazy to think to women were not equals to men and didn’t deserve to vote. Yet here we are in 2016 still fighting over equality and rights. We think we have the right to tell immigrants to leave or ban them from entering.
Newsflash – everyone other then Native Americans are immigrants. America was founded on the idea of escaping persecution and have freedom, justice and liberty for ALL. Not some. Not those who all look a certain way. ALL. Yet here we are, still banging out words on a keyboard spreading hate and anger. Screaming to be heard.
Millennials are known for being entitled and lazy. They are also known for being media aware, realistic, positive, tech-savvy, smart and skilled.
We have hundreds of years of history to show us what fighting solves – nothing. We have history showing us what oppression to any person does. We have history there as a teacher yet we keep looking past it because we are too stubborn. We have the technology at our fingertips to initiate and come together all across the world. We have the power we to choose positive words over hatred and negativity. We have the power to dig in and look at the tough issues and work towards solutions.
The Baby Boomers worked together to bring about change for civil rights and end the Vietnam War. They came together to produce long-lasting change. They were unmatched activists. After the 60s, it dwindled as they moved on with their lives.
We spew hateful words like it’s second nature. We criticize everyone and everything. We are all fighting just to have the last word. We’re not working towards anything. We’re driving everyone apart. Donald Trump or any other politician is never going to be able to make America great. With bureaucracy and political agendas, it will never happen. We have to do it. Why don’t we, as the largest generation, come together and be the change? It is our turn to carry the torch and pick up where the Baby Boomers left off. We have nearly 15M more people than they did. We can follow in their footsteps. Imagine 92M people working together for change. Let’s not scream our opinions at each other. Let’s discuss our views and opinions. We don’t have to agree with each other but let’s understand each other. Let’s hear each other. Let’s be the change.