According to a recent poll done by The Harvard Institute of Politics only 19% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 years old consider themselves to be capitalists.
If you are older than that, you may have a quick reaction to that statement, the same way that your parents did when you were 20 years old. However, since we often felt our parents were too quick to judge, so in the spirit of fair play, let’s take a closer look at what this may really mean before reacting.
I think we all know that things would never change without the young questioning the world they are inheriting. The problem comes when these young are willing to throw out significant things without careful consideration first. They don’t see the value, or the alternatives, so they make quick decisions.
A reoccurring problem has always been that the young feel their opinions are not respected; or that they are not entitled to have an opinion, which is usually an incorrect interpretation. Rather, they are told they need to hold their opinion until they have considered more options. The problem is, how can they take into consideration what they don’t know?
This is compounded with millennials, in that so many of them are still looking for their first jobs. Too many of them have no real experience with the “work world” and therefore have no vested interest in a system that they are still not a part of, or have experience with.
Yet, it would be foolish to discount their opinion simply because they are now powerless and unvested. Eventually they will become the ones who will be running society, just as generations before them have. So how do we get them vested now?
There is understandably some anger coming from the older generation because they personalize the questioning of the young. They have been working sacrificially and see these questions as a form of disrespect against how they have lived their lives, and provided for those now doing the questioning. I believe this is an easy mistake to make, as it short circuits a process that is otherwise healthy.
So how can we successfully engage this generation so they carry forward the ideals that we value?
In the past, the older generation took it upon themselves to not only hire the young in order to give them work experience, but they also took them under their wing and brought them up through the system. I don’t think this is happening nearly as much as in the past. That might be a first step.
An important second step might be to help the millennials talk through the implications of their opinions. The majority of youths now are unconnected with those older than them, so they have no one they can bounce ideas off. Although this may rest on their choice, since they isolate themselves more than past groups, it will not solve a serious problem like this one we are talking about.
So how do we connect to the millennials in our sphere? Well that may go back to mentoring and unfortunately making the first move. In the past the mentor was the one approached, now in order to fix this problem, mentors might need to be the ones approaching the mentees.
Otherwise, we could see the wholesale abandonment of a way of life that we have spent generations building.