My generation is one which has earned many titles. We are the “millennials.” We are the “entitled generation.” We are the “youth of the nation.” Title us what you will, but certainly and sadly we have not earned the title of “the learning generation.” What do I mean? I mean that by the time you are 25 in our generation you are no longer learn-ing you are already learn-ed. What is awfully pathetic about our lack of learning is that it is accompanied by our lack of earning. What have we earned? Many of us have earned little of the status in which we have received thus far, whether that be from our athletic ability celebrated by the generations above us which so arbitrarily lifted our sense of value for so long and all the way down to our skin color which we are born into, or college education which I received on the back of my Mom (and many of you did as well don’t kid yourself), and even our jobs we often can’t turn into careers. We certainly have not earned the right to be called learned yet that is what so many of us value most.
We believe we are already learned and therefore have nothing left to learn. Very ironically, the culture of post-post-modernism and “tolerance” has given us more absolutes than the generation before so vehemently attempted to abolish. Now, when we are 25 we are ABSOLUTELY sure it is wrong to be intolerant of anybody based on anything (literally! Besides all of the things we are absolutely sure we should be intolerant of-of course). When we are 25 we are ABSOLUTELY sure of all the things wrong in this world such as mistreatment of animals, gender inequality, fundamentalist religions, and whatever political leaders we don’t like, (oddly we aren’t learning a lot about what is right in this world). The list extends to what we are ABSOLUTELY sure is a good movie where we are ABSOLUTELY sure we should live how we are ABSOLUTELY sure we should speak who we are ABSOLUTELY sure we should love. And ironically enough we are so ABSOLUTELY sure there are no ABSOLUTE truths outside of the framework which has developed in our society which is ABSOLUTELY binding. Anything outside of that binding framework we believe in our generation we do not need to know or learn about and this is at minimum cause for suspicion.
What I’m proposing is that our generation simply own up to the fact that we are way far ahead of ourselves. I’m a pastor and so I’ll tell you just from my own subjective interactions I see a huge difference between my own generation and that 2 ahead of me and that is that the grey haired folks older than even my grandparents are the ones who have learned the most, lived the most, and loved the most, and yet they are the ones who listen and ask questions the most (obviously this is the rule and there are always some exceptions)… Why? I suggest it’s because they didn’t absolutely know everything by age 25 like we think we do. What did their parents value? Their parents valued the modern (as in modernity) values of respecting those in authority over you which developed a sense of always learning even until the day you die, because there was always somebody in authority to learn from. This, my millennial friends, is exactly what those philosophers whom we so often quote without even understanding what they were truly saying want us to do as well, because this is what it means to be a human who thinks rationally as we were created to do rather than a computer like the ones our generation so earnestly relies upon.
My dear millennial friends, we are not the software we create so let’s not learn the program and regurgitate the code contently from age 25 onward. Let’s each endeavor to act as a human being created in the image of God. Since God is a loving communicable agent who has created us to be communicable agents also a human being can listen without yelling. A human being can disagree without rage. A human being can learn without walls. And a human being can believe without shame. If you can read this then I can assure you of two things: 1. You are not merely an animal with higher utility than one who can’t read this and 2. You are not merely a computer. So don’t act as a trained animal which performs tricks according to your master’s command and don’t act as one programmed by arithmetic. You are not created by arithmetic you are created by the Majestic. Think about it and choose learning for the rest of your life.