There’s an endless supply of stories by people who are well-entrenched in their given media careers about how most millennials are lazy, listless and entitled. There are so many definitions of the word that actually putting down the correct age range is nearly impossible but rest assured that when most people use the word “millennials” they mean “those darn young people”.
And they must know different young people than I do, because I know a whole lot of them who are working hard just about every day to survive in this world where just about everything is exponentially more expensive than it was when their parents were growing up. The people I went to high school with are nurses, welders, dispatchers, accountants, real estate agents, tattoo artists, journalists, mechanics and one of them is even a country singer!
Many of them do have jobs, but there are some who don’t and it’s not usually because they’re not trying: I know multiple people who have been covering Sedville with resumes like a ticker tape parade and they rarely receive a return call or a non-automated e-mail response. Even McDonald’s, a place that is frequently cited as a place that will hire anyone at any time has apparently raised its standards more than most people realize. We don’t live in a world where an endless bounty of jobs are waiting for the taking. We can’t grab our wicker baskets on the way to the job patch and pick fresh jobs off of the job bush.
There’s a notion that today’s young people are more disrespectful than previous generations, but ever since the first offspring was sprung, there have been people who assumed that they just weren’t good enough and would soon inherit the world and quickly ruin it. But the human race rolls on, and now some of us have our own children and the cycle of losing faith in future generations can continue.
Now I want you to read this whole paragraph before you grab your pitchforks and torches: the notion that people deserve extra respect just because they’ve spent more years on this planet than someone else has always been strange to me. How about that serial killer on death row, is he a respected elder? How about the racist, the bigot, the child abuser or the ruthless dictator? Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age – I’ve met people 2 or 3 times my age that consistently make really terrible life decisions. I’ve also met some young people who made me think that all the generational doomsayers were right. There’s no age requirement for world-changing ideas.
The point is this: we should strive to give people at least the same amount of respect that we receive from them no matter how old they are. Of course, there are people of all ages that don’t have respect for anyone or anything and there are some people who have different personal standards of respect. But starting off a conversation by accusing an entire age group of being one way or the other isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.
I think it would be good for the future of the country, planet and maybe even the universe at large if we work harder to encourage our young people rather than take every opportunity to tear them down. There are young people alive today who might just cure cancer, or find a way to restore the depleted ozone, or find a second planet fit for human life and figure out a way to get there in a timely fashion.
Yeah, their slang is frequently cringe worthy, their hobbies are sometimes asinine and they definitely spend too much time on their phones, but nobody is perfect and I don’t think anyone would really want to be.
And this is for the young people out there: don’t let anything or anyone keep you down. As long as you’re not in jail and not mistreating your fellow person there’s no wrong way to live and there’s no path that can’t end up exactly where you want to be.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.