Stephanie Pearce: Millennials – Where will they take us?
March 1, 2015
The Millennials are here. They are voting for the most part. They are making decisions regarding government and this has me wondering how the future looks for our government.
Millennials are generally defined as people born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s. This group is determined to be, according to the book "Millennials Rising" by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss, one of America's greatest generations. This age bracket has the potential to make huge strides in our world, but what I've read most about them is they want to do this without the use of government.
Millennials seem to be very leery of government and why wouldn't they be? Most of what they hear is how awful government is and how the right and left can't get along. They hear how most everyone who is in government office is in it for the money or for their own personal gain. Millennials want to help their communities — not be involved in something so negative.
According to the 2011 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Student Survey, students ranked their ability to improve their community as highly as a strong starting salary when searching for their first job. This generation is willing to serve their communities and most have been doing it for a while so that their college applications look great. In doing so, they realize they like it and continue to do it. Serving is not an issue with this generation. They have that part down. They just don't see someone in government as serving.
Back in the day, public service meant, according to Merriam Webster, "Something that is done to help people rather than make a profit; work that someone does as part of a government; the work done by public servants." Today, government is considered so corrupt that this generation doesn't see government as a service, but as a disservice.
Will this generation change the role of the government we know today? My hope is yes and in a positive way. My hope is that they see the problem and use their social networking and volunteering to make a change in government, not just in social volunteering on a broad scheme. My hope is the brightest and best feel called to service to make a difference in all areas of government.
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My fear is that in our argument over who is right and who is wrong we have somehow failed to show them a love for our country and pride in its history. For the most part it seems that they have a love for people, but a large lack of connection to our country. They see the United States as a big dog that shouldn't be in any fight but should lie down when told. They think we have fought too many wars that weren't ours and we need to move ahead in peace and tolerance.
This generation has a lot on their plate ahead of them. We must find the brightest of the bunch and get them to feel a connection to this nation and the need for a strong government. It is essential to remind them where we've come from and show them in a more positive way where we want to go. We must demonstrate that service is still in government and not all of it is corrupt. We need to steer this generation back to the thoughts of Lincoln when he said "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."