As part of his recent address to youth in honor of World Youth Day, Pope Francis “issued a rousing and impassioned call to action… saying our unsettled times require them to get off the couch and ‘set out on new and uncharted paths.’( National Catholic Reporter, July 30, 2016)” Whereas the Pope’s address went on to praise the unique gifts of the millennial and Z generations and the ways in which we need them as a world to bring forth positive change (https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-makes-rousing-call-millennials-get-couch-and-fix-world), I found myself insulted (on behalf of all millennials and Generation Z’s) when the Pope accused them of being “couch potatoes” and “confusing happiness with the sofa.”
This “couch potato” accusation is often leveled against millennials and Gen Z’s, I believe unjustly. In my experience “couch potato” could not be farther from the truth. Instead, the millennials (and the Gen Z’s who are following suit) are one of the hardest working generations that I have ever encountered (at my ripe young age of 51). The problem is that many choose to view these children and young adults through the lens of their own generations’ values and how they defined work and productivity. It is completely unfair to view millennials and Gen Z’s through this lens as they have been born into a completely different time with a whole new set of societal problems and ways to meet those problems. In fact, the millennials are here for the sole purpose of cleaning up the mess created by the generations before them and the Gen Z’s are here to build the world anew. How would you like to be saddled with this mission? Think about that next time you are tempted to call the millennials and Gen Z’s lazy!
Who exactly are the millennials? According to Pew Research, the millennials are those who came into adulthood around the year 2000. Generation Z are those born after 1996/97. The millennials are already out there working on their mission. The Generation Z’s are lying in wait as the world around them is dying so that after it has all crumbled around them, they can step into the missions they came here to complete.
Where we have been:
Whereas the past 150 years have been exceptional in what we have accomplished by way of industrial and technological advancements, serious and perhaps irreversible damage has been done to our world, our cultures, the air we breathe, the soil from which we harvest our nourishment, our environment, our water, our people and all other species for the sake of “advancement.” The damage that we have done to the world and to one another has reached a critical level and if we do not do something soon to reverse it, we will destroy ourselves. The structures we have created to support these systems are in the midst of imploding upon themselves (government, education, healthcare, food production and distribution, energy production, institutional religion, manufacturing, corporations, banking, monetary systems, etc.). We need only look at the farce the US Presidential election has become to see evidence of this impending collapse. None of these systems will be able to sustain themselves if they continue along the path they have been traveling, and at this point, it is far too late to do anything to reverse their course…the avalanche is now out of control and on a course towards its own destruction.
This is where the millennials and Gen Z’s come in.
If we would take the time to get to know the millennials and Gen Z’s, we would see the profound gifts they have brought into the world and how they have been lying in wait, itching to do the work they came here to do. For one thing, the millennials and Gen Z’s came into the world with a profoundly different perspective than those before them. For the majority of this population, there is NO perception of separation – all human beings are valued as equal – male, female, gay, straight, black, white, Christian, atheist, American, Syrian, etc. While they find their “tribe,” they do not discriminate against those with different interests, beliefs, etc. They allow and are comfortable with diversity in a way that drastically differs from those before them. With this lack of separation, they are global thinkers….thinking globally rather than locally, while also privileging local when it comes to their purchasing power.
Secondly, millennials came into the world KNOWING the world they were supposed to be living in. Unfortunately, they quickly learned that THIS world is NOT the world they know in their hearts – the world that feels like home to them. THIS world does not feel like home, so they find worlds that do feel like home – worlds where there is magic, comradery, cooperation and harmony. While the world that feels like home does include “conflict,” the conflict is there for the sake of growth, not so as to harm the world or to harm another. All the time we might be tempted to believe they are just lying around, they are in fact, surrounding themselves with what feels like home. I believe that this is exactly what millennials and (especially) Gen Z’s are supposed to be doing right now. It is through these activities that they are preparing for their ultimate mission and purpose.
As I see it, the millennials and Gen Z’s are here for two purposes: the oldest among them are here to be hospice to the dying world, the youngest are here to build something new.
Instead of hurling accusations upon the millennials and Generation Z’s as being couch potatoes, let us welcome them for their profound gifts – gifts they are busy cultivating while others are busy judging. While many are tempted to believe the millennials and Gen Z’s are just lying around playing video games, Snapchatting their friends, watching TV, playing Pokemon-Go, they are in truth, lying in wait – visioning, dreaming, researching and planning how and what they will be doing to build the new world – once we get our asses (and our judgment) out of the way!
(c) copyright 2016 Lauri Ann Lumby, Authentic Freedom Academy. www.authenticfreedomacademy.com.