I have a deck of transformational cards where each card uses a parable or story to highlight an empowering attribute. Lately, I’ve been picking at random one per day and meditating on it. This morning’s was “Laughter”. The parable was of the three laughing saints, who, no matter where they went, brought smiles to the people around them. In the market place, they turned greed into warm chuckles and manipulation into a shared, happy moment. Even in death, the saints had placed fireworks in their clothes so when they were burned on the traditional pyres, their funerals turned into a festivals of celebration.
What does this have to do with Millennial selfishness? First, I’d like to dismiss (yes, dismiss) this negative and rather unfair stereotype. Millennials are often seen as carefree, vain, and money-driven, but this is despite trillions of dollars of student debt, pressure to achieve monetary success in life amidst rising costs (including those for mental healthcare), and polarized political and social landscapes. Second, writing as one Millennial to others, I’d like to empower myself and others to break – BREAK THE CHAINS THAT BIND YOUUUU – just kidding, break free from the intense pressures we face.
My grandmother told me a couple years ago as I was sharing about some of my future college and career plans, shaking her head all the while, that she really felt bad for people my age because, “after school we easily had a job and didn’t have to worry about all of that stuff.” And it’s true.
And meanwhile, Millennials have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are the generation that is supposed to eradicate hunger, save the economy, and live on Mars. A bit of a double standard, perhaps? I’m not saying we won’t be able to accomplish all this, but the pressure to “be adults” certainly isn’t helping us get there. Ingenuity and creative solutions are spurred on by a positive outlook.
And meanwhile, we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are the generation that is supposed to eradicate poverty, save the economy, and live on Mars.
We’ve been tasked with immense humanitarian missions in the face of near infinite evidence of a world that far too frequently places greater value on earning money than on the people working for the money. We struggle under the weight of a slowly resurging economy, where even jobs in the “humanitarian/development” sector are doubtful that they help anyone (see the numerous critiques on the United Nations or Clinton Foundation), and that one uncle who always asks why on earth you’re getting a liberal arts degree.
Let’s go back to the parable.
I was convicted this morning of taking life way too seriously. Of giving too many shits. Of not being carefree ENOUGH. Why? Because when I start focusing on all the crap I just wrote above, I stop focusing on the positives. On the possibilities. On my potential.
Life can be a crippling series of challenging events. It can also be an empowering, safe place filled with relationships with wonderful people. These two options often happen simultaneously.
They say laughter is the best medicine. When we start getting well, start feeling better about ourselves, and start being a little more carefree, we are way better at solving life’s and the world’s biggest problems. Feeling guilty and entitled about our 21st century privilege (and other types of privilege) does not help reduce inequality and injustice.
Oh, and the Google search as the featured photo above? It’s real, and I googled it last week. #screenshot.