It happened about a month ago. The article 7 Harsh Realities of Life Millennials Need to Understand was blasted all over my Facebook timeline. I wanted to say something right away, but a wise friend has taught me the “sit on it rule” when it comes to blogging. Well, I’ve sat on it, and now I’m posting it. I have grown increasingly frustrated with the millennial bashing trend, but this one took it to another level. What first baffled me is that so many people were quick to share an article that contains only one source and no author name. The article was shared by many websites, but it seems the original source is the Libertarian Republic. I could not find any information on this site besides what they offered in their about section. What really got me though, was how many Christians, many of whom are friends with me on Facebook, were sharing this article. They would post the link with a comment like “amen” or “so true”. Here is a collage of just some of the posts I saw, with names and profile pictures blocked out
I still don’t get why older Christians love to hate on millennials, but I really don’t get how a Christian could support the views presented in this article toward anyone. I can’t see how you could be a lover of Jesus and a lover of the Church and get behind these sentiments. Let me explain what I mean. I linked the article above, and I would encourage you to go to the source and read it, but I have pasted the entirety of the article in this post (emoji emphasis is mine). Each point of the article is italicized, and my response is below. Sources to show I’m not just making all of this up (something the article’s author apparently doesn’t know how to do) are linked in green.
- Your Feelings are Largely Irrelevant
“Seriously, nobody who has already graduated college cares about your feelings. That means that when you complain to your boss because your co-worker mis-gendered you, he’s probably not going to bend over backwards to bandage your wounds. Given feelings are entirely subjective in nature, it’s completely unreasonable to demand everyone tip-toe around you to prevent yours from being hurt. The reality is that people will offend you and hurt your feelings, and they won’t stop to mop up your tears because they shouldn’t have to. Learning to accept criticism, alternative viewpoints, and even outright insults will make you happier in the long run than routinely playing the victim card.”
Reponse: Let’s just think about this statement for a second. Your feelings are largely irrelevant. It seems the author points toward the workplace as a main example. Well, please tell that to the 1 in 3 women who have been sexually harassed at work. Please tell that to the 26% of African Americans and the 15% of Hispanics that say they experience racial discrimination in the workplace at least once in a 30 day period. Even beyond the workplace, this is such a cold-hearted response. Imagine your daughter coming home from school, crying as she told you the things the boys were saying they wanted to do to her, and telling her that her feelings are largely irrelevant. Imagine your son, completely defeated after being bullied mercilessly, and telling him that his feelings are largely irrelevant. Now, let’s talk about the Church, because all the Christians sharing this post seemed to be on board with this. Remember that time Jesus said, “come to me all who FEEL weary and burdened so I can tell you your feelings are largely irrelevant”? Remember that time we read that Jesus saw the crowds that FELT harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and he said their feelings were largely irrelevant? NO! Jesus said come to me so I can give you rest. Jesus had compassion on them. Could you imagine someone walking into the doors of the Church, sharing with a pastor or church member that they feel burned out in life because they are constantly criticized, offended, and insulted, and then receiving the response that their feelings are largely irrelevant? If this is the main way in which our world functions, millennials should not be told to get over it and get used to it. Millennials should be celebrated for trying to change it. The Church SHOULD be a place that bandages wounds. The Church SHOULD be a place that mops up tears. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- You Cannot be Whatever you Want to Be
This is a comforting lie parents have started telling their children to boost their morale in school. Unfortunately, millennials are now convinced it’s true, especially as society has now decided to push this narrative as well. The reality is if you’re 17 years old and still can’t figure out basic division, you’re not going to be a rocket scientist. If you’re overweight and unattractive, you’re not going to be the quarterback’s prom date. If you lack fine motor skills, you’re not going to be a heart surgeon. It’s okay to accept that you cannot be whatever you want to be. In fact, once you accept this, you’ll be able to focus on the things you can be — the things you really are talented at.
Response: Let’s just ignore how rude and shaming this point is, and look at that first line. This is a comforting lie parents have told their children. So if anything, it’s YOUR fault we are this way GenXers. Criticize yourself, not us. However, why is it bad for us to believe this? Look at all the inventions millennials have made because they believed this to be true. It’s why you have a Facebook to trash talk us on. Even more so, Scripture is full of stories where God uses people who were in no way qualified for the job to which He called them. Peter was an unlearned fisherman. He most likely could not do long division. Yet, he is one of the most influential people to ever exist in the Church. God can call anyone to anything He wants to, and He can give anyone the ability to do it. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- Gender Studies is a waste of money
You heard me. While some millennials taking useless degrees will claim they’re beneficial for teaching or research positions, the reality is that they just put themselves several thousands dollars in debt to learn how to be a professional victim. While you’re struggling to make ends meet after graduation because nobody who pays more than minimum wage is interested in your qualifications and you’re drowning in student loan debt, be sure to check out the next harsh reality before you start complaining.
Response: This point apparently has nothing to do with gender studies, but is more about millennials getting various degrees that the author views as pointless. Regardless, has this person done any research? The type of degree chosen has nothing to do with millennials graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and no job. Research shows that institutions (which are not run by millennials by the way) are majorly failing us. Also, millennials face higher tuition and more competition in the workplace than ever before. In the previous generations, a high school degree was enough to help you get into the middle class. Now millennials need a college degree and 3-5 years experience to even enter the workplace. Do you see the dilemma here? Sorry, there’s my millennial whining again. But besides being uninformed, this comment goes even deeper. What this is really saying is, following your passions is a waste of time. Millennials want to make a difference. Therefore, we pursue degrees to go into fields that align with our passions and our desires to make an impact. That doesn’t always make sense to people. My degree is in youth ministry. I am still paying off student debt, and will continue to for awhile. I will never be wealthy by American standards. Many people look at that and call my degree a waste of time and money. Guess what. I didn’t get that degree to be well off financially. I got that degree to make an impact in the lives of people. Millennials don’t want to spend a huge chunk of their lives working in a cubicle or a factory doing something they hate so that they can spend a small portion of their lives living comfortably. Millennials want to spend the majority of their lives doing something of value. If my two options are doing something I’m passionate about that positively affects out world, or doing something I couldn’t care less about that puts me in less debt and makes me more comfortable, the choice is obvious. Also, have you read your Bible lately? Scripture tells one story after another of God calling people to things that don’t make sense and seem like a waste to others. God doesn’t judge things by the worldly standard, He judges things by the impact they make on the kingdom. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- If you live in America, You’re already in the 1%
That’s right. Even though you work at McDonald’s for minimum wage because you got a useless, outrageously expensive college degree, you’re still far better off than the vast majority of the planet. Don’t believe me? Fly to Uganda and check out the living conditions there. Fly to China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and even European countries like Ukraine and Greece, and you’ll quickly discover just how well-off you really are. While it may be cool these days to dump on capitalism, it’s the only reason you aren’t already worse off.
Response: So many things going on in this point
- Duh! Millennials know this better than anyone. That is why we are one of the most charitable generations ever.
- Not that it’s a contest or anything, but I would bet that I actually have flown to more countries (not to vacation in their resorts, but to serve the poor and needy) than this author ever has. Likewise, many of the teenagers in my student ministry have been on more missions trip efforts than the majority of Christians who shared this article on Facebook. These types of experiences have led many of them to pursue degrees that others would say are a waste (see above point), or even take time off before going to college so they can serve the needy in other countries. My millennial sister is about to graduate and then is immediately going to work with children in Nicaragua. Now I’m getting back to point 3, but if that kind of stuff if a waste then I want to keep wasting my time and money.
Millennials know we are already in the 1%. That’s why we value social justice and making a difference all around the world. That’s a GOOD thing. What are YOU doing about it? How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- You don’t have a right to it just because you Exist
That includes healthcare, guaranteed income, and somewhere to live. Just because you’re here and breathing doesn’t mean society owes you anything. Like the billions of people who lived before you, working hard is a better guarantor of wealth and the ability to comfortably take care of yourself than begging society or the government to do it for you. Demanding healthcare be a right, for example, is equivalent to demanding government force the taxpayer to pay for it. While that may seem like a good idea in theory, it only leads to rationing of care when costs become unsustainable, which negatively impacts not just your health, but everyone else’s, too.
Response: Wait, what? So because I exist, I don’t deserve to have basic necessities of life like shelter, money to buy food, and healthcare? I don’t know how any person could agree with this, but especially the follower of Jesus. In Matthew 25, when Jesus says that whatever you did for the least of these you did for him, he talks about welcoming in the person who has no place to go, looking after the sick, and clothing the naked. The Bible constantly speaks of caring for the poor. I work for a Church that does exactly this. We have a ministry called Current Cupboard that gives groceries to those who cannot afford them. We have a homeless ministry that goes out and gives much needed items to those in need. We help people who are in financial need pay bills. My co-worker’s wife works for a clinic that gives medical care to those who don’t have insurance or are under-insured. They only ask people to pay what they can afford…even if it’s nothing. Guess what the clinic is called…CHRIST clinic, because this is the attitude of Christ. We do these things as a church because we believe that all people are created in the image of God and are valuable. Because they exist and are human, they DO deserve basic life needs. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- You DO have the Right to live as you please – But not to demand people accept it.
If you want to cross-dress, smoke marijuana, drink lots of alcohol, have lots of sex, and, yes, even go to school for gender studies, then by all means, go for it. Government should not be allowed to legislate people’s behavior as long as it doesn’t infringe upon someone else’s rights, but that doesn’t mean society isn’t allowed to have an opinion. You don’t have the right to demand people keep their opinions about your lifestyle to themselves, especially if you’re open and public about it. I have as much of a right to comment on the way you live your life as you do to actually live it. Your feelings are not a protected right, but my speech is.
Response: Ok, this one is a bit sticky. I’m really just talking to the Christians here. First, this is not a millennial thing. This is a society thing. Do you have the right to an opinion? Yes. Has society as a whole (not just millennials) unfairly blurred the lines of freedom of speech and hatred/bigotry? Yes. However, does having the right to have an opinion also give you the right (as a Christian) to not treat certain people as human? No. Jesus spoke truth into the lives of sinners, but he also valued them as beloved creations of God. He looked at them, touched them, conversed with them, and went to their homes. These were all things that were radically off limits for a good Jewish man. I hear lots of Christians talk about the combo of truth and love but then only follow through on the truth part.What makes us think that, as followers of Jesus, we can call people terrible names, say hateful things, and deny people basic goods and services just because we disagree with a lifestyle? Most of our comments on the way people live their lives, that this author says we have a right to, are not said in a way meant to build one another up. Posts like this that get shared by Christians are exactly why the lines of freedom of speech and hatred/bigotry get so badly blurred. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
- The only safe space in your home
No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home. Remember, though: if people in the outside world scare you, people on the internet will downright terrify you. It’s probably best to just accept these harsh realities of life and go out into the world prepared to confront them wherever they may be waiting.
Response: Do you even know what a safe space is? I’m not just talking to the person who wrote this article, I’m talking to everyone who shared this as well. I’ll save you the google search. A Safe Space is a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.
I work at Current – A Christian Church. It’s an awesome place to work and one of the many reasons it’s so great is that they employ several millennials. Once a week, a group of us sit down in a creative team meeting to discuss all sorts of ideas from stage design to sermon content, to experiential elements. Before we start a brainstorming session we typically point our what we call “the umbrella of mercy”. What this means is that, while we brainstorm, we are in a judgment free zone. All ideas are welcome. Not all ideas will be used, but no one will be belittled for their opinion, no matter how outrageous it might be. This is a safe space. Our students meet once a week in small groups. We regularly communicate that, in small groups, everyone in the group can be real and open about what is going on in their lives and what they are struggling with. They know that if they do this, they will not be judged or ridiculed. This is a safe space. At Current, we regularly communicate, in as many ways as we can, that people of all genders, races, cultures, backgrounds, etc…are welcome. We tell them that Christ, and His Church, are ready to embrace them exactly where they are at and help them move forward. We work painstakingly to make sure that everyone who comes to Current feels welcomed and loved. Do you know why? Because the Church should be the safest safe space of all. To the world, your home is your only safe space, but for Christians, this should not be true. All people (not just millennials) spend their whole week being torn down. The Church should not be another environment where this takes place. If you are a Christian and you are not working to make the Church a safe space, you are missing out on what the Church could and should be. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?
So what do I hope to gain from this? To the older generation, remember how you felt when your parents’ generation constantly criticized you for everything? Stop doing it to us. Of course we are not perfect, but neither are you. Of course we don’t know everything, but neither do you. Of course we have things to learn from you, but you can also learn some things from us. We are not a lesser part of Christ’s Church. We bring value to it as well. The thing is, this article is absolutely right when it comes to what our world is like, but the Christian should not be content to let it stay that way. This is why I just can’t get over how many people who claim to be joined with Christ in the ministry of reconciliation could share and agree with the mindset presented in this article and many others like it. Millennials should be commended for trying to shape culture, not told to just get over it and accept it for what it is.
To prove I mean it when I say I don’t think I know everything, share your agreements or push backs below. I’d love to interact with and learn from you.