The American political landscape is a manure crusted field of landmines; even if you don’t manage to set off a bomb when broaching a political subject, you’re still gonna end up stepping in shit. The past few years have brought to light many a polarizing idea, creating Grand-Canyon-sized chasms between differing political and ideological camps. It’s becoming impossible to avoid futile online arguments or the useless mud(shit)-slinging across these chasms. Name calling is back in fashion. Perhaps it's just easier to lump the “others” together under mean-spirited stereotypes devoid of nuance but it definitely isn’t helpful for society’s betterment, or for personal betterment, for that matter. These stereotypes are often simply ill-informed yet still so hurtful, damaging relationships and making it difficult to accomplish much of anything. We’re all guilty of this and we probably all have been hurt by this as well, so can we just pause for a moment and re-evaluate?
Something that I myself have been hurt by and that irks me to no end is the constant bashing of the younger generations. For now, the target still seems to be millennials but give it a few more years and we’ll all move on to generation “Z”. For the crimes of being raised by generations that recklessly destroyed the environment and tanked the housing and job markets, and by parents and teachers who decided to give out participation trophies (which I have yet to witness myself, #wheresmyparticipationtrophy), millennials are sentenced to decades of being called lazy, narcissistic and entitled. My defense? We didn’t raise ourselves, did we? When you criticise us aren’t you simply pointing out the crap job you did at raising humans? I’m not saying I could do a better job, but that’s why I’ve stuck to furbabies thus far in my own life.
The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 2000, is predicted to be the first generation in American history (and I would extend that to Canadian history, as well) to “do worse than their parents financially”. Great. I just love oracles that point out my bleak future. For the most part, though, my own pessimism is unique in the generation that I call home. According to Macleans millennials don’t believe that they are truly doomed.
Besides this surprising optimism, here are a few things about my generation that I really appreciate;
1. The gift of nuance. While binary thinking is simpler, easier, and probably our natural, human default, grouping other humans in overly simplistic labels can be damaging. The ole’ good v. evil, black v. white, liberal v. conservative tropes can only take us so far before we realize that there are far too many people out there who don’t fit into our nicely labeled containers. This is a disruption that I would wish on both my friends and enemies. Millennials have grown up in an age where peoples from across oceans and lands are able to connect daily. Our realities are far too big to settle for binary thinking. We’ve encountered individuals with vastly different upbringings and, therefore, vastly different conclusions than our own. We have been forced to adapt, to learn how to work with people across the aforementioned chasms, to wade through conflicts and to reconcile that what is real and true for me may differ greatly from the reality of others. Nuance will be one of our greatest gifts, I believe.
Slides from "Millennials Don't Exist!" by Adam Conover at Deep Shift
2. This nuance has the awesome side-effect of empathy. At least in my own circles, conversations soon become far less “us” v. “them” and more, “let’s just make life better for everyone”. It’s harder to villainize “them” when your eyes have been opened to their struggles and realities. I have no interest in creating villains; I would far rather see redemption for all of us (refer to the entire “Once Upon A Time” series for more on this, #redemptionfortheevilqueen).
3. This is the age of the anti-hero; ordinary individuals engaging in heroic acts despite their own failings and sins. They mess up often, can be self-centered and a little too misanthropic at times, but we’re all pulling for them (so I’m basically describing myself and my own yearning for redemption here, so that I don’t drown in my pessimism; thanks for indulging me).
To conclude this article, I would like to introduce you to my latest woman-crush: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At the end of June 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th district, against the incumbent, long-time, Democratic congressman, Joe Crowley. The Crowley campaign outspent the Ocasio-Cortez campaign ten times over, but because of the grassroots strategy of the latter, months of knocking on doors and personally speaking with and listening to her constituents, Alexandria came out as the surprise victor. You can read more about her in this Elle article.
Photo by Tyler Joe, feature on ELLE
There is hope for you yet, America. Your “young people” (in quotations because the millennial generation is now between 20 and 40 years old, lolz), should you allow them, have a great deal to offer. So, let’s stop griping about those young ones and find real and lasting redemption for us all by turning some manure into fertilizer and nurturing the shit out of those that come after us.
PS - here are some videos defending millennials!