The Greatest Opportunity for the Worst Generation

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Let me be clear: when I say “Worst Generation,” I’m not saying all these twenty-somethings are entitled, lazy brats. Many of us are, but many are not, too. I say “us” because I’m one of them. I’m 25. By “worst generation,” I’m talking about the times.

OUR BROKEN WORLD

Our generation has two huge problems facing it. One one hand, we inherited trillions in debt, the social security fiasco, and the fears of our parents, all the mistakes of the past which our ancestors could not or did not pay. On the other hand, our lives have been pretty easy; no global wars, rise of the instant culture, and easy money. Few of us really had to struggle, I mean REALLY struggle, but now we face an economic, environmental, sociological, and governmental nightmare.

We are David facing Goliath, but we have no slingshot.

I won’t waste time placing blame because there’s no real point. Is it the past generations? The consumer culture? The government? The media? Religion or the lack thereof? The twenty-somethings themselves? In part, all of these are to blame. But so what? Blaming doesn’t fix the problem. We can scream “unfair” til our lungs give out, and we may be completely right, but nothing changes. We can’t tell others to fix our world because they can’t or they won’t.

Even if we bear absolutely no blame, it falls on us to fix the world. Why? Because it’s ours now.

We’re adults now. We’re grown up. We are the young and strong, and we have just stepped into a garbage dump. Don’t kid yourselves; the world is not pretty or good; it’s an absolute mess. But it’s our mess now. We don’t have to like it, but we have to accept it. Why? Because nobody else will. They’re all pointing the finger at us, saying, “Get a job! Go green! Pay off the debt! Fight the gangs! End the corruption!” So we have three choices and only one will work.

OPTION A: We throw responsibility back on others. They throw it back to us. We play Hot Potato for eternity while the world burns. OPTION B: We shift responsibility to the next generation, do to them what was done to us, and then whine and complain when they want to play Hot Potato, too. OPTION C: We wipe our tears, set our jaw and say “Bring. It. ON!!” This is the one, the ONLY option that will ever actually work.

And you know what? It’s going to be amazing. Oh, it will be hard, don’t get me wrong! We’re going to suffer for this, but heck, we already are! Unemployment, pollution, corruption, it’s already here. May as well make it our own, because if we own it, we can roll up our sleeves and say, “I’m going to fix this.” If we do that, guess what. Someone will FINALLY be trying to fix the problem instead of just whining about it!

Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that glorious? Imagine it! Really, lean back in your chair and imagine it right now! Imagine the worst problem in America you can think of. Now imagine somebody was actually fixing it. Imagine someone feeding the poor, cleaning the rivers, kicking corruption out of Washington.

Now open your eyes. Guess what. It was you, the whole time. You save the world.

HOW WE CAN DO IT

Yes, we are ill-equipped, but through our efforts, we will learn and grow and become stronger than anyone expects us to be.

We are poor, so we’ll learn to do without. Consumerism is finally too expensive for our unemployed generation, and we must change our ways.  We will fix things that are broken instead of demanding new ones. We’ll build things that last. We’ll prioritize and spend wisely. We’ll see debt as the cancer it is, not as some tool. We will share and trade resources, not because some Communist government forces us, but because we want to, because we’re all in this together, and we each want to do our part to clean this mess. We’ll care for our poor, sick, and elderly, because they are ours, and we love them.

We are ignorant, so we will learn. We are too numerous to be without skills and knowledge, so we will search within our ranks for someone who knows. If no one can be found, we’ll humble ourselves and seek the wisdom of our elders, how they conquered problems in their past and apply it to our situation. And we live in the internet age; the answers are out there. We will learn.

We are scared, so we will band together. We can’t do it alone, and virtual friendships won’t cut it. We’ll have to grow into real, intimate huddles, uncomfortably close, to survive physically and emotionally. We’ll have to be honest, cry on each others’ shoulders, and pick each other up. We’ll have to protect each other when danger comes.

We can’t do it all, so we’ll raise our children well. We won’t shelter them; we’ll prepare them for the realities of life. We’ll raise adults, not children. We’ll teach them how to put into the world more than they take out, so that when our generation has passed away, they can continue the good work we’ve started, and do the same for generations to come.

This is a long-term goal, far beyond our lives, but we must start somewhere. Why not with ourselves?

IT’S OUR TIME. 

In days long past, societies changed from the top down. An emperor or king made a decision and the country followed suit. Our country doesn’t work that way. We’re a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” remember?. That’s why laws and government programs don’t work. We have to start with the people, at the bottom, and work our way up.

This is our moment where we decide what we want to be. We don’t have to like it, we don’t even have to accept all the blame (though we must accept our part), but it’s our world now, and nobody else will fix it for us. Let’s get dirty, sweaty, even bloody, and fight for something far larger than ourselves.

So you can sit in the sand, put your fingers in your ears, and say, “Not my problem!”…or you can be a hero.

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