Will and the Mill's

I’m confused. You millennials (born after 1980) are now the largest demographic ever in the United States. I’m excited to hear this. Fresh faces and new ideas are what is needed to improve our world. Yet, everything I hear or read about the millennials is pretty frickin negative: the MeMe generation. Lazy, coddled, narcissistic, self-centered…holy shit!

Two things really bother me about this. First is that the older generations maligning you would be the ones responsible for you developing these drastic behaviors. Rather a self-incriminating indictment wouldn’t you say? I mean every older generation bitches about the younger generation…which is crazy because the older generations raise the younger. If you’re “coddled,” that’s not your fault—you didn’t do the coddling after all. They’re actually maligning themselves. Pretty ironic. Or the moaning about you being entitled because you expect a trophy, not for winning, but just for participating. What bullshit. Whose idea was that? How many five year olds stand out in right field and cry for a trophy while picking dandelions?

Secondly, I haven’t found those accusations to be accurate. I have a dozen grandchildren who are all mill's and I find them kind, open-minded, non-judgmental, and tolerant to diversity. Pretty cool. They’re young mill’s and not terribly civic-minded yet, but as they grow into believing in themselves and meet older role-models, they will have the right attributes as citizens to really accomplish things.

Also, I lecture at colleges and universities hopefully helping the students find satisfying careers and become independent. In most cases I find these nasty mill’s want jobs and careers that they feel good about and want to work at companies that do “good” not just “well.” Isn’t that just so “entitled?”

Now it’s true, every generation has its “loafs.” People who don’t give a shit and “take” more than they “give.” The world will be, at the best, no better for them having lived. Not a sentiment I’d want on my gravestone. 

Speaking of my gravestone, I’d be happy if it read: “He at least tried.” I admit for years I “hid out” in the country on a hobby farm, raised my five kids “far from the madding crowd,” unconcerned about the nasty business of politics and oblivious to what humans were doing to the earth. 

But now I’ve got these twelve—a round dozen—grandchildren, and I’ve become concerned about the future…their future, your future. I still hide out on a, so far, pristine lake in beautiful northern Minnesota, but I’m trying. The power of the pen is wide, as they say. So, I’m writing. My third novel, “Will,” I wrote thinking of my grandchildren and hoping it might be a call to action to you millennials who have the necessary attributes to turn some “unsustainable” things around.

Speaking of things “unsustainable” let me give you an example close to my and my family’s hearts. Although Minnesota is known as “the land of sky blue waters,” almost half of our lakes are damaged by pollution to the point of being not fit for humans to swim in, some not even for fish. It may be worse where you’re from. In my neck of the woods, the lakes so far untouched, the potential pollution comes in the form of toxic spill from a proposed mine in the watershed of the BWWCA (Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area—the most frequented wilderness area in the U.S.), which includes my lake. Of even bigger concern for your future is the aquifer under all this polluted water and soil. 

So - a question to you. Do you think this will get better if ignored? Not to mention what may become of the aquifer, your and your grandchildren’s drinking water, under all this polluted water and soil. This is what I mean by unsustainable. If this polluting isn’t not only stopped but turned around, the problem will only get exponentially worse.

I apologize for leaving you with this inheritance. I’m sorry, but it’s one of a number of issues you will have to turn around the direction of. I hate to be cynical, but the wealthy people currently in power aren’t going to change the direction of things anytime soon, because they benefit from the status quo. But greed—profit at any cost—isn’t sustainable. That leaves you to have to change that.

When I talk to millennials I’m told you believe in equality and fair play. You are aware of what the consequences of unfettered greed are…and don’t like it. Fabulous. That’s what we need…that’s what YOU need. College students have helped make a stand at Standing Rock, against polluting the earth and its water. (Although remember: the earth will prevail. It’s the human race that’s at risk.) The December 26th edition of TIME reported that today some 7 million people die prematurely due to air pollution and that 90% of the world’s population lives in areas with unsafe air-pollution levels. That’s absurd! And don’t think that’s just in cities in the developing world…it includes cities in America. Some politicians are starting to pay attention to this, but it’s going to take pressure from concerned and aware citizens, like yourselves, to provide the pressure to arrest and turn things around.

I’m sorry, again, for being so damn serious. I’m not trying to depress you, only inform you and motivate you to act…I would like my novel “Will,” for example, although fictional and written tongue-in-check, to be perceived as a call to action. It’s my means of “trying”—as well as writing this essay is. I’ve read the definition of hell is when the person you are meets the person you could have been. 

It may seem overwhelming about where to start in making a difference and beginning to protect your future. There’s so many issues like poverty, inequality, waste, education, violence… but if enough of you choose something that you believe in, and try, your future and the planet we need for life will be in better shape. Your children are relying on you. I’ve read: Treat the earth well. It was not given to us by our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

Remember you are the largest and thus most influential demographic. Don’t listen to those maligning you. You have the attributes that are most needed now. There is strength in numbers. I sincerely hope, for my grandchildren’s sake, for you and your grandchildren’s sake, that you become the person you can be.

As Bob Dylan said: It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin there.