We live in a world increasingly divided. Divided thanks to a whole host of reasons, some of which stem from inequalities, inequities, or injustices. Others originate from, and are exacerbated unnecessarily by, the world’s media in a selfish attempt to fulfil their own agendas. We, the so-called ‘millennials’, have also been subject to accusations of being hopeless, even failures. Yet I argue this is utter nonsense, nothing but malicious and fallacious claims to boost profits. If anything, we have greater prospects as we are Global Citizens; we are the breath of fresh air the world needs; we are resilient; and we are the world leaders of tomorrow.
I staunchly defend our generation, and am proud to be a part of it. Accusations like these are all too commonplace in our world today (I would be surprised if you haven’t already thought of other examples of divisive accusations). And it’s about time they stopped.
There are a great deal of publications out there that describe our generation as ‘weak’, ‘hopeless’, some use more vulgar language. Others adopt a better stance, shifting the blame onto the wider society, but still we are considered a ‘betrayed‘ or ‘lost’ generation. We are deemed to have poor prospects, simply because we have grown up in a world that is entirely different to that of our predecessors. In the UK particularly, tuition fees are ever-increasing; the rhetoric for graduate prospects is negative, especially owing to ‘mass education‘; lifetime earnings are predicted to be lower than previous cohorts due to a lack of pay-rises (at least for the 99%); “savings, what savings?“; the housing market is strained and we are left with a rent-or-buy (or build) dilemma, so the incentive lies with remaining at home; somehow we must fund extortionately priced childcare, or risk exiting the labour market; hopes for the NHS are fading; then comes funding our parents’ retirement and healthcare in later life, while we are expected to work later into our lives in order to sustain a shrinking taxbase; oh and I almost forgot… as if this wasn’t complicated and uncertain enough, Brexit throws another spanner in the works.
Some argue that for our ‘low prospects’ we can point the finger at our role models: parents, teachers, professors et cetera, but I disagree. How are they to know what the future will hold? No one can predict the future. Our role models, understandably so, are likely to advise us based on their own experiences; based on the economic climate of their generation. Others blame no one but themselves. Granted, there are always exceptions to rules, but by and large the same counter argument applies.
Our economic climate is poor, so we write ourselves off?
No, of course not. Quite the opposite in fact. Yes we are entering a world that makes life difficult, but that by no means leaves us ‘hopeless’. This gives us an opportunity to prove ourselves. Quite frankly, we should be offended by these accusations.
I believe, we are far more adaptable, resilient, critical, transparent, open-minded and tolerant (international; CQ), Global Citizens (globally aware individuals, understanding of intercultural communication). Yes, a lot of these traits make us different, but they do not force us into the categories we have been assigned – we are not the castaways we are portrayed as.
We are adaptable and resilient because we are accustomed to change. Those of us still in (or just completed) education haven’t had it easy. Battling constant structural changes, increased bureaucracy, alternating curricula, subjective grading, as well as regional catchment inequalities with nepotistic and plutocratic advantages. But… and here is where it gets exciting… we have tolerated all of this. We have been tossed into the maelstrom that is a Western education system and come up smelling of roses.
We are critically-minded because we have had to demand value for money. Increasing austerity and cuts, when coupled with the aforementioned financial difficulties of our time, form a very toxic environment in which to live (for some). With tuition fees at outrageous rates – affording qualifications only to those who can afford it – we have been left with no choice but to scrutinise every detail and search for any existing loophole. Any one that knows me well, will be aware of my belief that healthcare and education are two of the most important rights in life (in ascending order), and that nothing should stand between those rights, be it money, gender, race, age, or location. Nothing. And this also overlaps with the element of transparency. We have, at some stage, undoubtedly witnessed or heard of our peers, friends, or relatives falling victim to discrimination of sorts. Some will have been affected by that, angry at themselves for being a ‘bystander’ and not an ‘upstander‘, but ultimately changed their view and vowed never to allow this to occur under their responsibility. I admit to this too. I always wondered why somebody didn’t stand up for what they believed in, and then I realised that I was also part of that ‘somebody’; it’s all to easy to passively observe and be complacent.
We are tolerant, open-minded and globally aware. This is my favourite trait. A truly contemporary quality of our generation. We arguably have more Cultural Intelligence (CQ) than previous generations; we may have travelled with, grown up with, befriended, or simply met a variety of different individuals – people of different cultures, faiths, and orientations. We have have therefore been surrounded by alternative beliefs, cultures, opinions and ways of life. In my case, my friends are scattered all around the world. I have been fortunate enough to travel a great deal in the past year and have made strong friendships as a result. Most of us are entirely different, but that is what I love. That is what holds us together, our differences, our fascination with each others’ lives. Our generation can be seen as Global Citizens. We have no extreme patriotic views that anchor us to our ‘homeland’; we are accepting of the new, and say good riddance to the old. We are internationally-minded, accustomed to intercultural communication and value diversity, and this, I believe, is the greatest strength of all.
In fact, this is perhaps one of the only good things to come of the recent rhetoric associated with both Brexit and the Trump campaign. A passion for unity, cohesiveness, inclusion, equity, tolerance, and general sanity has emerged. The only resistance and hostility we should show is towards discrimination (be that by gender, age, faith, nationality, or orientation-related). Few things please me more than seeing others around me helping to combat inequality in its various forms. The most rewarding project I have worked on in my life thus far relates to the promotion of gender equality in Delhi (Video summary), where women aren’t worried about wage gaps (at least not yet), as they struggle to merely leave the house without male authorisation, or struggle to walk down their road at night for fear of sexual assault.
So we just need a little more respect and tolerance the world-over. Wouldn’t that be nice. It would be nice if all journalists reported precise fact, and not exaggerated slander; and it would be nice if all politicians represented the majority and fought for what they truly believed in. This list is endless. But one thing can come of this, we as a generation should set the trend. Throughout our lives we must be the ‘upstanders’ we (and the rest of the world) longs for; we must be staunch to our cause, bold in our actions, and fight for the change we wish to see in the world. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
“We cannot judge someone until we have walked a mile in their boots”