Updated on January 2, 2017
Updated on January 2, 2017
This is the final part of my Millennial Generation Series. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here. If you haven’t read Part 2, this post will not make much sense. So go read that now. This post will still be here when you’re done!
The election of Donald Trump brought the Fourth Turning back to the forefront of my mind. The Crisis era is here and the destruction of our institutions is coming. I’m not making this up or using it as a scare tactic against him. The viciousness of the election cycle, the growing division in our nation, and his win simply brought the topic back up in my mind.
Trump’s slogan, which we all know, accepts that our strongest institutions have been crumbling. I simply wonder if he knows he is also playing a role in this crumbling. I’d say not, but the same would apply to any person who had won this election. That’s the point. Society is in the Fourth Turning which leads to the breaking down of our institutions. There is no stopping it, only resolving it and rebuilding after. (And no, it won’t be a Boomer president to rebuild. They’re the ones who bring about the Crisis.)
This idea of a coming crisis is not new. Strauss-Howe wrote a book called “The Fourth Turning” back in 1997 and predicted the Crisis. We have not seen our crisis yet. I look around me and see this destruction of institutional life growing closer. Our nation has never been more divided politically. We stand not as the United States but the Hatefully Divided States. I look around me and see people more concerned with their own personal issues than the issues of their neighbors or fellow Americans. This desire for a sense of civic duty and a team driven mentality I’m displaying in this very paragraph is part of the Hero archetype.
Most Millennials will fit this archetype despite all the articles written about us. They tried to call us the “Me, Me, Me Generation”. They were wrong because they were looking in the wrong places. I see a generation more concerned about our environment and the condition of our world for future generations in all political parties. This generation gives a voice to the disenfranchised even if they themselves are not disenfranchised. I see a generation more willing to donate money, time, and resources than anyone cares to admit. And I’m not the only one.
Recent articles are starting to point out our giving and volunteering habits are higher than anyone suspected. These habits only look different from previous generations. While Millennial voter turnout is still rough compared to the older generations, we choose to participate civically through activism and volunteer work.
One thing everyone is noticing compared to Baby Boomers when they were in their youth is the Millennials in our youth are far more optimistic about the future. We believe in brighter days ahead, not darker ones. Again, this is standard for the Hero archetype. This is the generation I see.
This is the generation that struggles with our own narcissistic habits. We’re not perfect. I know this. Entitlement exists in us, but I would argue it exists in ALL Americans and not just Millennials. Yet my generation still looks around and says, “how can I volunteer for something I’m passionate about to make our world a better place?”
If you want to applaud the Greatest Generation (G.I. Generation) but complain about or yell at Millennials, I hope all this gives you pause. Our generation is more like them than any other. The very things that drive Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers crazy about us are the same things that made the Greatest Generation so damn great. Hello irony.
The biggest issue is we haven’t fully hit the Crisis to rise up to our Hero archetype yet. We are chomping at the bit, ready to serve our country and rebuild what we see crumbling around us. Our nation will not survive this crisis without a rebuilding period, without a generation that is made to rebuild. Everyone will need the Millennials for our nation to survive.
They will likely always call us Millennials or Generation Y, but sometimes I wonder if we will be renamed like the G.I. Generation when history looks back on us. I hope it is something like the Justice Generation, the Freedom Generation, or Generation Phoenix for helping a soon to be broken world rise out of its ashes. But that is just my wishful (and fantastical) thinking for now. Fun fact, some have already started to call us the Second Greatest Generation.
“We are chomping at the bit, ready to serve our country and rebuild what we see crumbling around us.”
I know it does sound slightly crazy to talk about this crisis like it is a sure thing. This isn’t a doomsday prophecy or pessimistic outlook on society and life. This is a proven pattern for centuries since the 1500s looking at history through the ebbs and flows of generations. This is identifying different markers of each generation and what they bring about consistently. Read this article for an abbreviated version of “The Fourth Turning” if you are more interested in this topic.
If you are a millennial who claims to not appreciate the same values most millennials do, ask yourself why? You may be more of a millennial than you think if:
Millennials might not all agree on different stances, but we want to be united. At the end of the day, that will matter when we are faced with the greatest crisis since WWII. We can take steps today to unite, to understand the other sides of any given argument. Let’s move toward each other in compassion and love as our society unravels around us. Let’s fight for all the good that is still in this world. Our country’s future may depend on it.