Every few months there’s something else that millennials are destroying. First it was home ownership and cable TV, then our political system and religiosity, and now its casual restaurant chains and diamonds. It’s as if the entire millennial generation, the largest generation in the United States at more than 80 million people, holds regular meetings to decide the next industry or product to kill with a groundbreaking invention. It’s as if we hold no reverence for the “good ‘ole days”.
Except, have the older people who criticize the millennial generation in this way actually stopped to think about why we’re destroying all these aspects of American society? Millennials don’t set out with our shiny new diplomas, quickly changing careers, and mountains of student debt so that we can change our society and world for the fun of it. We kill industries and products and start new ones because so many parts of our society are broken and don’t work for us, let alone the rest of society. And often, it takes a new and fresh perspective to see just how broken parts of our world are right now.
Here’s a few examples for you:
For a generation where our first and only memories of government and politics are President Clinton being impeached, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, unresponsive policies after Sandy Hook, there are reasons for us being disgusted with our entire political system and showing apathy toward it.
Millennials are the most educated generation in history, and yet we graduate from college with enormous amounts of student debt. It’s no wonder we aren’t buying homes and that we push for quick and fair workplace advancement. We’re also the product of parents that told us we could do anything we wanted when we grew up. We’re ready now!
Our generation also grew up during the birth of the Religious Right and Christian evangelicals fighting vehemently against civil rights for so many people. For Jews, it’s our parents and grandparents freaking out about “continuity”, not so great Hebrew school classes, and our Jewish community refusing to acknowledge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And you want us to not be skeptical of religious affiliation?
There are plenty more examples (advances in technology, increased mobility, and, again, how our parents raised us), but let’s finish up here.
Millennials are changing the United States and the world in unthinkable ways that will have a deep impact for generations to come. It makes sense that older generations would be frustrated with all these changes because every great change comes with some form of resistance. But my biggest pet peeve are the older generations thinking that we’re doing this by accident or for the fun of it. These changes and innovations are happening because we want to make our mark on a world that is deficient in so many ways. We want to be heard by a world that stopped listening. And we want to make a difference because that’s what our parents, our teachers, our politicians, and our world has told us to do since we were born. We’re ready to keep on leading; I hope that all generations will join with us.
I want to push a little on the fifth paragraph. I believe your argument is that part of the reason that Millennials abandon religion is because the Christian Right, very outwardly religious people, express views Millennials disagree with. Presumably, they then connect religion as a whole with those disagreeable ideas and distance themselves from both. Now, the assertions I am about to make are much more anecdotal than empirical, so feel free to disregard them to whatever degree you see fit.
1) Most people seemed to leave religion/religious institutions starting around their teenage years. This coincides almost perfectly for Jewish kids right when they have their B’nai Mitzvah and so lose a prime motivating force for going to religious school, much less weekly services. As for non-Jews, my guess would be that that age is when, intellectually, kids undergo a lot of growth and begin to question everything (themselves, parents, society, etc.). I know for myself, it was increasingly hard to square the idea of God with the way I was taught to think in school. Additionally, the community traditionally provided by the religious community could be provided by anything from sports teams to internet forums.
2) If you grant my point that a lot of the desertion of religion happens between 12-18, then I would argue that the lower political awareness of that age group precludes the protests of the Christian Right from being a major contributor, or at least significant enough to list as the sole reason in your piece (though I acknowledge that you were just providing a brief example). Further, even if it was relevant last decade (I would actually grant it relevancy in any time pre-Obergefell v. Hodges), it seems increasingly less so.
To reiterate, all claims I made are just my own observations, so contend with them as you want. I only wrote this reply because your example causal factor seemed out of place. To be clear, I have no allegiance and little agreement with the most salient of their issues, but this felt like a misused criticism. And for a group with so much to criticize, it felt like a wasted opportunity.
This is less relevant to the article, but something I’ve been wanting to ask. What do you think of GFC’s treatment of the Israel-Palestinian issue? Or do you think they even have an obligation to mention anything about the Palestinians?