They call us the “lost generation.” I suppose I can see why, but I’ll have to disagree with the label. 

Sure, we’ve got a bit of an existential streak but who could blame us? We’re a generational fulcrum, a pivot point, that split second when a pendulum stops before changing directions. We’re caught between the old traditions of our parents and a future that, while inevitably transformative, we have no way of understanding. It’s a situation that would have any generation raising tough questions.

One thing is for certain: we’re talking. The questions we have are being asked. The chatter of the Millennial generation permeates the web, the classroom, the television, radio and newspapers. Our keywords even occasionally make it to the auditoriums of power—if for nothing more than political currency. We share what we had for breakfast and our deepest insecurities with each other. Be the subject matter inane or the most fundamental aspects of being human, no generation has ever been so close and connected.

Just imagine the awesome power inherent in that fact.

And yet, we feel powerless. We are pinned down by the institutions raised and supported by those who came before us—conventional paradigms in education, conventional approaches to family, work, money, society, politics, race, religion, sex, relationships, nationalism, culture, morality and more. And we look around, having been told the “right way” and the “wrong way” and watch everything crumble under the weight of convention.

Our leaders struggle to use a smartphone or send an email. Their feeble attempts to grapple with this new reality—the reality we created—begs the question: “Why are they in charge?”

We’re unemployed and underemployed, yet highly educated. Is it that the previous generation’s institutions robbed us and our children of opportunity? Partially, perhaps. But it’s also that we don’t fit into these institutions anymore. We are dynamic and fluid. They are static and rigid, fighting to defend the status quo because it is all they understand so they call us “lost,” and the “generation of me.”

But if we are lost, it is only because it is always difficult to imagine new paradigms when the old ones surround us. There are very few role models to admire and very few paths to follow when you are the trailblazer.

So where do we turn for guidance?

  • Academia? No, academics are torn between defending their narrow little disciplines and being so open-minded that their brains fall out. It will be up to us to foster transdisciplinary inquiry where our focus is the holistic, sweeping realities of human experience rather than a minute sliver. We must acknowledge the interconnection and interrelation of the arts, sciences and humanities. Luckily, forward-thinking members of the previous generation have gotten us started. 

  • Our managers and bosses at work? Not likely. It will be up to us to foster an imaginative new approach to management and leadership, one that focuses on creativity, commitment, authenticity and diversity and develops tools to facilitate these things. No longer will we be satisfied making decisions solely based on things like hard information, procedure and protocol. 

  • Our political leaders? Ok, I’m laughing at that one too. Modern-day politicians cannot possibly represent us. If they aren’t completely out of touch, they are bought-off—or both. Theirs is a world of gaming competing groups off of each other for their own gain. We will be the harbingers of a new political era that aligns with our new style and method of communication, one where we take responsibility for the society we have created. 
We must turn inward to our unique selves, understanding our own personal purposes and realizing that it is our own responsibility to pursue them. We must turn to each other, realizing that it is our combined endeavors that manifest the greater societies that we must live in. We create the values and the values create the societies.

It will take a pioneering spirit, enthusiasm, optimism and very real sense of the challenges that lie ahead. It won’t be easy, but we will certainly be viewed as an important part of history, a group of people that weathered the transition into a new Enlightenment. And we’ll do it because we have each other.

blog comments powered by Disqus