There clearly is a growing problem among millennials, those born between the years 1985 and 2000.
Of course, every older generation believes that the next one is not up to the job of creating a good society, based on more traditional values or fostering a good economy.
We constantly are being reminded of the tremendous burden overhanging those who reach maturity in the 1930s. Business was in the deplorable state suffering from the Great Depression. Unemployment hovered around 30 per cent for those of working age. Then too, storm clouds were gathering, first over Asia with the Japanese on a warlike rampage trying to conquer China, and both Italy and Germany were on an imperialistic war footing. The democracies seemed to be unwilling to confront that. Hence, with the accumulation of threats to Europe and inevitably to North America, and a very depressed economy, young people had more than their share of obstacles to overcome.
Despair was prevalent. In Britain the Oxford Movement was comprised of young people who vowed not to fight for the king and country. In North America the economy was faltering, and by 1937 the economic stump reappeared. Still, the so-called Greatest Generation emerged.
This time, however, it is widely assumed by millennials that their working lives will be governed by precarious, short-term arrangements with a scarcity of employment opportunities; that they will not be able to earn enough to support the social programs most have relied on when they planned to retire.
A feeling of anxiety about the economic prospects of a younger generation is common. Youth unemployment stands at about 14 per cent, down slightly from its peak – discouraging for youngsters seeking employment. In part, that might be a reflection of technological change where some operations are being replaced. Baby boomers realistically report that their children can expect an economic environment different from their own.
Youngsters nowadays as a generalization believe that the world owes them a living. They have not been told “no,” they believe they are entitled to own a home now and that governments will take care of them.
Yet millennials do not adequately participate in elections, they do not read newspapers, and are not prepared to make good choices. They are less inclined than their parents to accept organized religion, and their education does not provide them with a knowledge of history.
Their sense of entitlement is omnipresent. Their mores are a constant shock to older people.
Millennials’ perceptions are deeply flawed. One has to hope they will rise to the new challenges as other generations have been able to do. Still, the outcome is far from certain – worrying for the rest of the population.