How many of you are feeling very stressed about your future or know somebody who is?
Every hand went up.
How many of you feel that more than not having your voices count, there is no way for you to even be heard?
Again, every hand in the air.
What are the three most important things you think people should know about you?
That we want to be included.
That we expect that you mean what you say.
That if you tell us you are going to do something, follow through.
Thank you for asking us to face our feelings, because it is true that many of us are not leading happy lives. It’s not that we are totally depressed or anything, it’s that we are stressed all the time, and it’s difficult to figure out why.
This past Sunday and Monday I had the pleasure of being taught by young people: Breakfast with a youth group from Waterloo, ON and as a guest speaker to two classes of grade 10 students at Canterbury High School in Ottawa. If you are swayed by the graph at the top of this blog-post, then you might be forgiven for thinking that I was on foreign turf.
Nothing could have been further from that perception. In fact, the paradox I experienced was that the more I embraced the fact that I am older, the freer they seemed to feel about being younger and the stronger to bond became
– based not so much on a transfer of knowledge but a sharing of respect.What exactly did they teach me?
– That the best way to teach is to learn.- That there is no real “Millennial Identity” because it’s so diverse.
– That more than ever in my lifetime, the generations need each other
– to move from a succession of generations to a collectivity of generators.
We like to line them up and ship them out… all the while telling them to think for themselves. No wonder there’s confusion.
It is time to stop slotting millennials.
Because when we do this, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, those of us who are older, by robbing ourselves of the results of great seeds we have planted.
The greatest thing our young people bring to our society is a real desire to not just talk about HOPE, but to live it – without fear – knowing full well that the world changes fast, that the job they have today is not the job they will have tomorrow. And that’s okay because it will not stop them from doing their best today so as to be able to their best tomorrow.
We have much to learn from each other.
Think about it for a second… if everything is changing around us, then what better way to learn about change than to listen to the ones who are experts at changing? Did you notice that in all cases, the responses to my questions all had to do with relationships and not knowledge? Young people understand that it’s relationships that help navigate change.
Here’s something else to think about. There is a real desire to participate. For me, this is a radical departure from what I have traditionally understood youth movements to be. Rather than overturn, these young people were thirsty for what I knew. It was humbling. The more they called me “Sir” the younger I began to feel. An odd feeling, but there it was.
So… instead of hearing them as angry and self-righteous and spoiled (like we are so often told “they are”…) I experienced something totally removed from that. Any guesses?
To be continued… I was going to try and nail down what I was “going to do about this”. Instead, I am going to ask my new friends about what they think. We each know something that will point us to the answer of “what to do” .
The answer is coming… stay tuned.
– Rev. Eric Lukacs