One view on the millennials

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS is just one view among many others with regard to the so-called “millennials,” those young people born between 1980 and 2000. I have heard quite a bit of comment about them, and many of them are not good. I thought of putting my two cents if only to give a more balanced view on them.

Some people say that the millennials are very different from those of the previous generation, as in, they are disturbingly if not offensively different. They are not just different in a legitimate way, but rather that they have already crossed the line of legitimacy.

In one talk show, for example, they were characterized as “coddled, entitled, narcissistic, and lazy.” I thought that was a rather sweeping and reckless characterization of these young people who are grappling with a significantly different world environment, what with all the technological progress and the many ideological, cultural, and lifestyle choices, etc., they are exposed to.

I find it unfair to see and judge people more by their peripheral aspects rather than by the more essential one that should have universal applicability irrespective of what generation one belongs, or of race, religion, gender, etc. We have to be clear about what things we should hold as having an absolute value and what also are those that only have a relative value.

Yes, there will always be differences among the different generations, some of them we may consider as legitimate while others we may already deem as illegitimate. This phenomenon should not come as a surprise. Given our human condition, we will always have these kinds of differences. But that should be a challenge we have to tackle, making clarifications in an atmosphere of respect, patience, and charity.

Truth is what the past generations worked so hard to discover and accomplish are now usually already taken for granted by the current generation as it will try to discover and accomplish other new things or at least introduce certain innovations. This fact will bring about certain differences in attitudes and outlook. So it is unfair to compare people from different generations using the yardstick of a particular generation.

Of course, not to be forgotten is the reality that regardless of whatever generation one belongs, there will always be cases of persons who manage to do good and take advantage of what their generation, in general, has accomplished, as well as cases of persons who misuse and get spoiled by what their generation has developed.

We just have to learn to live with that reality and focus more on what can unite the different generations rather than on what divides. We need to know where to find the source and energy of unity among the different generations. And this can only be God. Without him, there is no way but for us to cause division and conflict among the different generations.

In this regard, we have to focus on catechizing everyone about God and us, about how we come from God and how we ought to live our whole life with him, discerning and following his will and ways not only on the big issues of life but also on the small, ordinary and usual ones.

We should be guided by the basic moral principles that are truly inspired by the teaching of Christ and authoritatively taught by the Church. But we should also realize that these principles are never frozen and rigid, but rather alive and still open to further deepening, refining, and polishing to better adapt to varying situations without compromising what is truly essential and absolute.

With good doctrinal and moral foundation, we should be able to discern what is good and useful in any development in a particular generation, and what is bad and potentially dangerous in that generation.