By Capt. (Chap) Jeffrey McMillen, 92nd Air Refueling Wing chaplain
/ Published May 05, 2016
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- "I think millennials are a generation unlike anything we've ever seen." -- Chelsea Krost
It was a post like nothing I've seen. A millennial talking trash about millennials. There she was, a young lady in her early twenties, rattling off all of the popular criticisms of her own generation she believes are true. Here are a few of the things she had to say:
"We're just existing, not contributing anything to society."
"We're lazy, we're really entitled."
"We want to make a lot of money and have free education, but we're not willing to put in the work."
"We don't respect our elders, we don't even respect our country."
Full disclosure. I've had plenty of complaints about, "kids these days." I have caught myself saying old geezer statements like, "When I was a kid _______." But hearing these words as a sort of "confession" from this young lady stopped me in my tracks. You see, my own three children are millennials. Could they really be that bad?
My conclusion? Absolutely not. My kids are amazing. Now, before you accuse me of bias in favor of my own offspring, the truth is that I can say that about almost every one of the kids I know from that generation. Jeffrey, Kayla and Daisy have some of the most amazing friends I have ever met. In fact, when I compare them to the kids I went to school with, it's rather embarrassing. Following are some of the characteristics I have seen in young people today that truly impress me:
Freaking Smart: The level of intelligence among millennials is impressive. My kiddos all attended average American schools, and the number of their fellow students in advanced classes shocked me. Today, there are many young people graduating from high school with up to 1/4 of a college degree. When I was in high school, all I really cared about were the cute girls and having a grade point average sufficient to keep my parents off my back.
Deep Thinkers: I was a simple young man. I took life pretty much at face value. Young people today are not quick to just accept what you tell them. Like many older folks, I have taken this to be disrespectful. With my own kids, however, I find they have a deep desire to understand the world around them. They need to know WHY we do the things we do. In an ever changing world with so many voices, this is a characteristic essential for survival.
Accepting and Compassionate: In my earlier days, it was common practice to pick on others because they were different from us. The fat kids, the skinny kids, the ugly kids, the kids with braces, you name it, we made fun of it. This is not acceptable to our younger generation. In fact, it is the jerks of the world who get ostracized from social circles. For my kids and their friends, reaching out to kids on the fringe is commonplace.
Servants of the Nation: Since 9/11, millennials have been fighting to beat back the forces of evil in the world. They are Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen who serve valiantly across the world. It is their blood that's been spilled on desert sands for nearly 15 years. There is nothing "entitled" about that.
The list could go on and on. Although there were days I feared for the future, those days have come to an end for me. As my children and their generation come of age, I have more hope for our Nation's future than I ever have. The bottom line is this: The Future is Yours, Millennials. Our days are numbered. The most important thing we "seasoned citizens" can do is to raise you well, share our wisdom and empower you to lead the way. To be sure, you're not perfect, but you're doing a pretty darn good job.
To my millennial children and your friends, you make Mom and me proud. All the millennial Airmen here at Fairchild and across the nation, you make us proud too. Keep on keepin' on!