The greatness of a generation is measured by how that generation mastered its time. Whether it is a victory in a major armed conflict or the eradication of a traditional evil, the ability of a generation to reform its destiny in the image it desires it to be is the seat of its greatness.
Since the nature of the generation I am a part of — the Millennial generation — has begun to be more established, many members of previous generations have commented on the moral vacuity and lack of personal drive they see in Millennials. Now is the time for the Millennial generation to defend itself against the attacks of its elders.
To clarify, members of the Millennial generation include individuals born after 1980. The period of early youth for Millennials was characterized by a robust and growing domestic economy, peace abroad and the absolute assurance of the United States being the strongest and greatest nation in the world.
Our parent’s generation guided our development with promises of infinite chances for greatness in our lives and an American dream that was alive and strong. By the time Millennials began to approach early adulthood, however, the world had changed fundamentally.
The peace and security that shrouded us in comfort as children was ripped away from us on September 11, 2001, and the promise of success in our careers and the stability of our future eroded during the 2008 financial crisis. As we become adults, Millennials are recognizing the promise of our parents as a lie and our future as uncertain and ominous.
Many publications have questioned recently whether or not the Millennial generation will be able to recover from the situation it is in. Though the unemployment rate of the United States right now is 8.1 percent, among those 20 to 24 years old, it is 14 percent. For Millennials fortunate enough to have a job, their real earnings is far lower than it was for their predecessors, as it has fallen 15 percent since 2000.
Though their parents promised if they worked hard and went to college, they would succeed, Millennials are beginning to realize this too was lie. Currently, 43 percent of recent college graduates are working jobs that do not require a degree for employment.
Statistics such as these are indicators for why 56 percent of recent high school graduates do not think they will be as successful as their parents and 58 percent of recent college graduates agree.
As the evidence indicates, Millennials have plenty of reasons to feel angry and frustrated with their situation, as they see the American dream their parents promised them is nonexistent.
Indeed, Millennials generally feel the American dream is dead, with 45 percent stating that, though it was once alive, it no longer is, and 63 percent say many people are denied a chance at success due to socioeconomic inequality.
Despite this pessimism among my generation, however, we still have it within us to be the greatest generation in the history of the United States. According to a 2010 report by the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse and the most socially tolerant in American history.
To cite just a few examples: Only 32 percent of Millennials say homosexuals raising children is morally wrong, while 48 percent of Baby Boomers say so. Five percent of Millennials say interracial marriage is morally wrong, while 14 percent of Baby Boomers think so. And 58 percent of Millennials say immigration is a positive thing for our nation, while only 43 percent of adults 30 and older say so.
In addition to these statistics, Millennials feel a stronger sense of responsibility to care for their parents than Baby Boomers felt toward theirs, as well as trying to get along with them more.
In terms of ambition in life, 52 percent of Millennials stated being a good parent is the most important goal for them, with only 15 percent saying that making money is.
Given their sense of social tolerance and ambition to have a good life, Millennials have it in their ability to be the greatest generation in American history.
Unlike their parents’ generation, which left them with a financial crisis, a federal debt equivalent to $50,000 per person, two major wars, an education and health care crisis, and not to mention eight years of the Bush administration, the Millennial generation will soften and make the nation more tolerant. We will take mastery of our epoch by designating it as the era of peace and acceptance with the goal being social justice rather than conquest and the accumulation of capital.