Those are the kids who are now entering the work force (if they can find jobs). I’ve been spending some time with them through my biking advocacy, and I’ve observed some things about them.
1. They are passionate. Whatever they are “into” they are REALLY into. They don’t want jobs in which they just shuffle papers, unless their passion is organizing papers.
2. They are compassionate. Their hearts bleed for all the ills of the world – from slavery in the world to wanting women to be able to walk down the street without being catcalled.
3. The young men are amazing – they are not threatened by strong women! They celebrate those women in their lives who are strong and capable, without losing any of their masculinity in the process.
4. They are open minded. They may disagree vehemently with a position on an issue, but they are largely willing to listen to someone with a different viewpoint, as long as they can share theirs as well.
5. They are not traditionalists. They love to dress in a hipster style, live in the city, ride bikes without helmets, and work/play in a way that just takes care of their immediate needs. They are open to piercings, tattoos, gender bending, and mismatched clothing. Their causes tend to be liberal, and their inclusion is refreshing. I mean really, when a 50-something woman shows up to a bike scavenger hunt in which the only other woman near my age is immediately teamed up with me, clearly they know we are out of our element. But their greeting to us was genuine and they were truly pleased we participated!
In sum, these kids are very much like what we would have been had we been brave enough to break out of traditional structure. I think that what has enabled them to do so is that each generation from the 60’s on has rejected a little more the intense structured life of their parents, and certainly their grandparents. The millenials are the beneficiaries of "mission-creep" if you will -- each generation getting a little more liberal in their thinking. (Don't worry, I'm not giving up my conservative ideas -- they come from the benefit of hindsight).
Still, I wish I'd had the courage at their age that I do now. The ability to say, "I'm going to do things my way because the traditional way isn't right for me." I made a small statement once when I announced I wasn't going to college and I thought my mother would have a heart attack right there in the Hallmark Store. I really DID want to go to college; I just didn't want everyone assuming that I wanted to do so.
In difference, these kids don’t seem to have much anger about the position they find themselves in vis a vis jobs and future. We seemed to need an anger to fuel our break outs from the mold. They take it as it comes and just press on. And while they’re pressing on if they happen to see a broken person along the way, these kids actually SEE that person, and try to help. I see it within and outside the Christian community, and it is beautiful to behold.
I think the world is in good hands. Sure, there are things that aren’t working so well, but these young people reflect an energy and joy that makes them fun to be around.
If they only didn’t ride so fast on their bikes, I could be around them more often.