When I talk about growing up being hard to do in our time and in our place, I’m not just engaging in the fun pastime of preaching to the millenials, like St. Francis preaching at the fish.
I assume at least the pastime is fun, because so many people do it. I just don’t think it has any more effect than preaching at fishes, and I think it suffers from… shall we say? … a lack of understanding of the creatures preached to. Maybe also of the creatures doing the preaching.
I’m highly amused that the boomers, possibly the most media-stereotyped generation in history, where the decent members keep telling us they’re not like the lunatics who protested, shut down universities and joined sex communes to share medieval-like diseases from never bathing, are the ones most stereotyping the millenials, according to how the media portrays the millenials.
As some millenial readers here have said, and as I know from my circle, most millenials aren’t like the lazy, game addicted creatures who preach socialism at everyone that the media shows you. Most millenials I know were raised under the spur of boomer teachers who — sorry guys — really are stereotypical in “challenge all authority except mine!
Yes a lot of millenialss got lost along the way, and yes, I know my share of millenials drifting through life with no aim, no job, no training, nothing.
But do consider these kids were assured from their youngest age that they were surplus (there are too many humans. I mean they tried to force both of my kids to sign a no-reproduction agreement); that there is nothing they can do (capitalism is inherently unjust, and we’re all ruled by corporations and big, shadowy forces); that no one cares about them (blood for oil; the only reason guns aren’t banned is because people want you to get shot); that their future is poorer and any children they have will be condemned to hell on Earth (we’re running out of oil, water (according to my kids’ teachers), glass (also according to my kids’ teachers) and anything else you can think of, (including some things you can’t.), there is no future for humanity (global warming is going to kill us all.)
The amazing thing is not that some millenials drift through life with no aim and no plan. Who cares, if it’s all going to end, anyway.
I’m fairly sure they resemble nothing so much as the generation that grew up in the shadow of the year 1000, except without the religious portion, since the prophecies that depress them pretend not to be religious. And yet, anyone who has seen a millenial white male talk about how he’s guilty of all the evils in the world and how he will never be clean of white privilege knows EXACTLY what the flagellants looked like.
Put yourself in their place. The kids who swallowed the gospel of human guilt for everything and in particular the gospel that the West is particularly evil and that the end is nigh and inevitable aren’t getting up and building. I’m shocked, aren’t you shocked?
The brighter they are, too, the easier it is for them to swallow that gospel, because it’s easier for smart people to become attracted by internally consistent systems even if (particularly if) they have no contact with the outside world.
Again, these aren’t all the millenials, just like the toking, commune dwelling lot weren’t all of the boomers.
But they are a significant portion, and in some way they might be the portion that would have been most dedicated/creative.
So, what can be done?
Well, my upbringing wasn’t much different from theirs. Partly because Europe is advanced in derp. I took learned all the faults of “capitalism.” I too learned we were going to run out of everything. I too learned the Earth was so overpopulated my kids were going to need to ask the next door neighbor for permission to inhale. And that was if I had children, which I shouldn’t have, because there were too many people, people were a blight on society and anyway, we were all going to freeze to death because of pollution.
Turns out, of course, the fear-mongers were wrong. But the young didn’t know that.
And as much of a contrary cuss as I was, I swallowed the inevitable doom too, until someone sent me a Reason subscription in 92. I have no idea who did it. What I know is that article after article, reason dismantled the idea we were doomed. Even if they’d done nothing else, it was worth it. They threw open the prison gates. They stopped the obsessive fear that consumed so many brain-cycles. They showed me that we had as much of a future as every other generation, if we worked for it.
It’s perhaps no coincidence I sold my first short story two years later. Panic and doom are not conducive to achievement.
We live in the richest, best time to be alive. A little work and commitment can see us off this rock. Our resources are not unlimited HERE, but they’re endless in space. And they’re effectively endless here, since our technology changes to avoid shortages and problems. Obsessing over a future (maybe. I think we have now proven enough for 300 years) oil shortage, or any nonsense like that is akin to obsessing over a hay for horses shortage at the end of the 19th century. It won’t come to pass, and it won’t matter if it does.
The world is infinite and prosperity is infinite and limited only by our minds and the work we’re willing to do.
And once you learn that, once you learn that you were lied to, that the preachers of doom played you, they can’t get you back ever, ever ever again.
Sometimes the prison door needs to be opened gradually. People who’ve lived long in the dark will resist light.
But it can be done. And once you get that door partly open, the prisoners of depression themselves will help you.
Learn what they’re teaching your kids at school. Don’t let them become prisoners of despondency. And reach out to those older kids who are imprisoned in that bleak vision of the world. Search on line. Present them with facts that contradict the fears they learned. Start with things that aren’t so close to the center of their fears. Stuff like, people in Africa are living better now. Start slowly before you present them with science fiction stories from 1986 saying that by now the world would be a scorched desert.
Don’t preach, just show them how long this doom-saying has been going on, and not once right. Paul Ehrlich is a great one for this. If the one about California sliding into the sea won’t make them snort, nothing will.
Explaining to them that fear-mongering is an attempt to control them won’t hurt, after they’ve seen they were being played. Or it might not be needed. The young aren’t stupid. Only young.
The world is beautiful and prosperous. Don’t leave the kids locked in that scary, cold place where they can do nothing.
A mind enslaved should be set free.
Go open prison doors.