Hi there. It’s me: an eighteen year old girl from a generation that came after yours--specifically, Generation Z.
I interact with so many of you on a daily basis. My teachers, my colleagues, and even my own parents fall in the generation that began to chart new roads, ideas, and standards for what living was meant to be.
In your time, the way of life that the Boomers were able to obtain was groundbreaking and revolutionary, and tackled so many problems in ways not thought of before. The Boomers perfected the art of using technology or innovative social practices to make the world a better place to be. And I have to say, Boomers, I applaud you for so many things. You revitalized women’s rights and sexual liberty, changed the way all of us treat each other, and made big dreams seem more attainable than they had ever been before. Women achieved a greater ability to make marital and reproductive choices. POCs gained more footing and ground by way of the civil rights movement. It was when your generation came on the scene that hope and strength for the future of the United States--and the world as a whole--was recognized, appreciated, and empathized.
So for all of this, I thank you. Dearly, and from the bottom of my heart.
However, with all these great things in mind, one has to recognize that--just as there are no perfect people--there are no perfect generations, either. Though I applaud all of the revolutions that occurred during the time of your generation, none of these things exempt you from owning the consequences of your catalytic actions.
Yes, you have made it more possible than ever to own a car, a home, and have a job that warrants the ability to provide and protect your family, but you have also amassed a federal debt that your generation will not be around to pay off.
Yes, you have created new roads and infrastructure, moving people around the world and from place to place faster than ever, but you have also caused massively detrimental changes to the environment, and you have made little to no efforts to undo the kinds of damage incurred by your generation’s lust for change and hunger for momentum.
Yes, in your time you were at the forefront of social change, but now so many from your generation seek to push back against communities who demand change today--never mind that they need change just as badly now as the people you once fought for did back then.
And I know what you're probably saying right now: that I and the rest of my generation are selfish, that we’re ungrateful for the lives that we’re able to live in this modern society. That none of us truly understand all that you have sacrificed in order to get any of us this far in the first place.
I told you already that there is no such thing as a perfect generation, and I will not argue that there are not some selfish people in Generation Z, but I will argue the notion that there are just as many selfish Boomers.
You cannot tell me that it is not selfish to destroy the environment and refuse to make the changes necessary to clean up your mess simply because you won't be here to see it.
You cannot tell me that it is fair to say that you “worked your way through college” in a time when the cost of tuition was a quarter of what it is today.
You cannot tell me that I am lazy for wanting to take a break, volunteer, or travel, simply because it isn't something you would've wanted to do or placed importance on in your own youth.
To be quite frank, we, as the generations after you, have to right to be selfish--just as you once were in the eyes of those who came before you. When your generation was the same age as mine, you were just as ready to blame your issues on the generation before you. You were eager to make changes, and you refused to let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your goals. Isn’t only fair to believe that my generation has the right to the same kinds of liberties?
Youth finds its spark in carving an individual path for themselves. We are all grasping for qualities that will let us leave marks on the face of history for those who come after us to see. The individuality that comes with being young is similar to the collective thinking that persists as one gets older.
I am not trying to change your mind about your beliefs, goals, and hopes for the future. I am simply asking you to reflect on them. Before you blame Millennials for making the world soft, or accuse my generation of being addicted to our phones and other means of technology, remember how badly you begged your own parents to make changes when you were our age. Remember what it felt like to be young and hungry, with all the world’s problems sitting on your shoulders instead of ours. I ask you to consider what it was, when you were my age, that you considered to be most important of all.
You had your passions, your convictions, your causes; we have ours. It's our right to pursue them, even if it makes us soft, “queer”, or ungrateful. After all, I’m sure that those who came before you would say the same thing about your generation.