by Cody J. Elms
They don’t like the way you dress. They don’t like how you walk. They scorn at the words you say, the rules you break, and the attitude you have. They don’t respect you because to them your way of living disrespects theirs. They think you’re weak, lazy, time wasters, foolish, and sensitive. They claim that because of you, the future is in doubt. They believe that your lack of belief in their system will ultimately crumble the very structure that they are comfortable with. It is their opinion that your political views are feeble and lack any substance or credibility. If they had it their way, you would fall in line, keep quiet, and do as you are told, because to them, that is peace.
With that being said, tell me now, who are they and who are you?
Depending on what year you were born, that answer could vary, and that is the premise of what I am about to say.
To begin with, I don’t particularly care for the generalization of one generation, but each has their own unique majority that think or believe one way or the other and that, good or bad, becomes the label for their place in history.
Social media has brought to light many things about the American people that I feel were best kept within the confines of their like-minded pals, but that is not the world we live in now. Now, we are able to heave whatever uneducated comments or opinions we have onto a social media platform, with little to no consequences. There are some issues, such as race relations or women’s rights that despite all of the evolutionary advancements we have made towards equality, are still a work in progress, and you can clearly see that on all forms of social media at any given moment. However, there is one particular type of discrimination that I have seen more and more of recently, and that is one of generations blaming and outright hating other generations.
Generational prejudice is a two-way street and is certainly nothing new. If you take a small amount of time to research the past 75-years, you’ll see that each older generation has tended to negatively stereotype the younger generation that followed theirs, while then that younger generation proceeds to negatively stereotype the next. At the same time, the younger generations will react by negatively stereotyping the older generations, which ultimately results in an unnecessary and completely man-made division in an already divisive world.
For reference, a generation is a collective group of people born around the same period of time. For example, according to CNN.com as of September 4, 2018, those who belong to the Baby Boomer generation fall approximately somewhere between 1946 – 1964, Generation X from 1965 – 1980, and Millennials from 1981 – 1997.
I was born in 1986. I am a Millennial. Yet, I work two jobs in opposite fields and neither have a safe space. I enjoy music from Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Pink Floyd, to Michael Bublé, The White Buffalo, and Metallica. I’ll watch The Avengers right after I finish watching The Godfather. Peace and quiet have as much value to me as does the accessibility to friends with a smartphone. As a matter of fact, I prefer phone calls to texts.
My point is, when I see a person stereotype Millennials, they are stereotyping me as well. Furthermore, from my experience, I am not the anomaly. There are an increasing number of Millennials that fall well outside the small circle of stereotypical thought. Don’t worry if you fall into Generation X or are a Baby Boomer, because I am not pointing the finger just at you. Millennials are just as guilty, if not more so.
They don’t believe you’ll understand it, so they don’t explain it. Generation X had their moment to grab the proverbial brass ring, and they let it slip by and now they’re just jealous of us. There is a widespread assumption that Baby Boomers are all throwbacks that could care less about advancing equality further or the way we approach things like health care, international conflict, or even gun rights.
We are more than the generation that defines us. We are more than who we vote for, what we wear, or how we talk. We are all individuals who are as different from one another as we are from the generation before us, and those that have yet to established. The group we must belong to is humanity. These fabricated lines that were created in time have constricted our responsibility to humanity to always be evolving, growing, and expanding, our way of life and our understanding of the world around us.
If you are in your later years, understand that pushing the future away will not salvage your past. For those who are the future, you cannot refrain from repeating the errors of prior generations if you are unwilling to acknowledge their place in history.
My son, my nieces, and my nephews, will all live lives very different from mine, yet in some ways all the same. I cannot mock them or begrudge them for perhaps finding a better way, or at the very least trying to forge their own paths. Just as much as I hope they don't shun the words of experience, mistakes, success, and failure.
For all generations, past, present, and future, they won’t like you, they will reject you, they will oppose you, but in the end, they’ll need you.