Straight Talk Advice

Dec 30, 2009

Millennial Generation creating a kinder, smarter world—Part I

DEAR READERS: The young people on this panel range from age 12 to 24. They are part of the Millennial Generation, born from 1982- 2001. The most striking thing about “Milllennials” is that they grew up hard-wired to instant communication technologies. Young people today are strongly expressive and individualistic, but you’ll notice at the same time, they are joined at the hip with their peers—probably because of these technologies. Between Facebook, MySpace, texting, emails, instant-messaging, voicemails, phone calls and MMO (massively multiplayer online) video games, they are in constant communication with each other.

Millennials are sometimes referred to as Echo Boomers because of their large numbers (60 million) and their relationship to their mostly Baby Boomer hover-craft parents (78 million) who eschewed spanking and showered their kids with enrichments. It’s no wonder Millennials love their parents, feel entitled, and are living at home longer than other recent generations did.

In working with this generation, I am struck by their advanced awareness of root causes and psychological processes, their uninhibited and truth-speaking natures, and the love they have for each other— and “the other.” Every New Year I ask the panel to share their vision of a better world. As we enter 2010, here is what’s on their minds. More panelists will speak next week.

Emily 17, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

People avoid change because it’s “hard” or “inconvenient.” They say, “What can one person do?” But if everybody considered themselves significant, the world would be exactly what we want it to be: peaceful, humane, healthy. Most people listen to what other people say and don’t make their own destiny. They don’t strive. Let’s abandon the “survival-of-the-fittest” mindset and make the world a better place.

Brie 18, Ashland, Ore. Ask me a question

Americans live in excess. I’d like to see reduced consumption of unnecessary products, “disposables” and packaging. A cesspool of plastic the size of Texas is floating in the Pacific. Let’s use renewable resources and develop eco-friendly plastic from plant matter. For overpopulation, since educated people have fewer children, let rich countries help poor countries build schools. Let the civil war in Uganda end. Every day, children are forced through fear of death or mutilation to be child soldiers.

Ashley 22, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

What bugs me most is the food industry. Why can’t we consume food that is local, organic and healthy—without the horrible treatment of animals?

Lennon 23, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

Stop the hanging-out, “find yourself” mentality and give young people vocational and on-the-job training. We spend countless dollars in universities gaining “knowledge,” but if knowledge isn’t paired with “know how” a person can still be dumb as dirt. On other topics: Topple consumerism. Slow life down. Make the world less virtual, more local.

Scot 22, San Luis Obispo, Calif. Ask me a question

It might be from the ultrafast pace and instant-gratification of the information era, but people seem unable to notice how their actions affect others. Talking too loud on a cell phone, having drama in the checkout line, constantly asking small favors, these things add up and soon you are putting people in uncompromising situations. With this kind of treatment, how will a close relationship stand a chance?

Geoff 24, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

We need more love. One of my gay friends came out to his family after Thanksgiving. They supported him. Why can’t we all? Why do we continue to insist that marriage rights are not what every loving couple deserves? Only 40 years ago the Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law that criminalized inter-racial marriage; why do we pretend that same-sex phobia is any different from racism—or sexism? Do we really need the Supreme Court to tell us we need more love?

Savannah 16, Folsom, Calif. Ask me a question

Let’s stop lying and hating each other and instead support each other. World peace starts here.

Editor’s Web Note: This is one of my favorite columns of the year and this year the panel had so much to say that the column will continue next week. I’m honored to work with this generation. Once dubbed Generation Y, this generation is so far from being an offshoot of Generation X, that they are now mostly referred to as the Millennial Generation or “Millennials.” —Lauren

  1. By Mandy Morris, age , from Rocklin, CA on 12/30/2009

    I think the most important thing is to count our blessings and be grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have and being unhappy about it and wanting more.  I used to be really bad about this.  I’ll admit that I’m still not perfect, but I feel that I am getting better. For example, I used to really hate having to share a room with my sister and really wanted my own room and was always complaining. Then I realized that there are many people who are homeless (including kids my age) who would be very happy to have the nice room I have even if they had to share it. Also, my sister was injured in an accident.  Even though her injuries weren’t that bad, it made me realize that something terrible could have happened to her and I realized how sad I would be and how much I would miss her.  I realized that I would much, much rather have my sister and share a room with her than lose my sister and have my own room.  This is just one example, but the idea is that you should be grateful for what you have.  Most of us in this country have far more than most in the world could ever hope to have.


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  2. By Karl VanBronkhorst, age , from Woodland, Calif. on 01/10/2010

    Dear Lauren:

    I came up with ten things that I would pass on and have tried to pass on to my own children that are universally applicable to the human experience.

    1 – Envision yourself as the best you can be and measure your actions against that.  Deeds are your footprints in the world.

    2 – Consider that you might be wrong.  You will be.  Learn to apologize with an open heart.

    3 – Decide what is right, then do it without thought for reward.  That takes care of itself.

    4 – Spend time in silence, which is found by truly listening to others.  It is an attitude of quiet receptivity without preconceptions.

    5 – Make a habit of being truthful and you will never have to worry about covering your tracks.

    6 – Be comfortable with losing.  Failure and loss are the yardsticks of character.

    7 – Thought is the engine that drives speech.  Discipline your thoughts and you’ll never have to worry about what comes out of your mouth.

    8 – You make unconscious choices whenever you fail to choose consciously.  Your protection against bad choices is trust in the innate goodness of your heart.  Follow it when you don’t know the way.

    9 – Use mortality as a touchstone.  Ask yourself ” would I want this to be my last act on earth?”  Death always touches you when you’re not looking.

    10 – Cultivate unconditional love in your heart at all times.  How to recognize it?  It cannot be subtracted from nor divided, only added to or multiplied.  True love is the greatest force on earth.

    These are treasures I have kept in my heart my whole life and they have never failed me.  If more people tapped into and trusted the spiritual treasure trove that lies within and poured that out on the world, instead of sucking like vampires on the teat of “who dies with the most toys wins”, it would be a kinder, gentler world for us all.  Tell the “Millenials” that the universal truths are just that…..universal.  We are all unique, and yet we’re not also.  We are many, and also one.  The human experience is to walk the tightrope between absolute and relative truth, balancing and integrating both into a coherent whole.  To lean too far in one direction is to make one’s vision partial, like looking with one eye only.  For the heart’s vision to have dimension, one must live simultaneously in both worlds.

    Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year……Karl

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