Advice to my millennial kids
Hi Milla and Kasper and Guthrie,
I wanted to tell you some things. I’m not going anywhere. I just want to say them while they’re fresh.
My first piece of advice to you guys is not to listen to me unless I’m making sense. If I tell you not to run in the street it’s because I don’t want to see you smashed by a car. If I tell you to become a lawyer or marry a certain person or live somewhere weird then feel free to ignore me. I’ll tell you why.
My parents, your grandparents and great grandparents, were born into a world of plenty that was marred by war and eventually economic inequality. Old people told my generation what to do, who to love, how to live, and how to make money. They were wrong a lot of the time because their information was stale. You’re watching the last gasp of their power right now — the old losing grip on reality. I’ll lose my grip, too, and you have every right to question me. So start now. But listen to me when I tell you not to run into the street.
Older folks aren’t all bad. I took their work ethic and penchant for innovation, and we also created a sense of fun and play because we didn’t have endless distractions. My generation gave you lots of stuff. The Internet. The iPhone. Family Guy. Use them in good health.
What did you give us? You gave us the will to go on.
Our enemies don’t have much fight left.
So here’s what to do.
Look to the rest of the world. Explore. Learn. Travel. The world looks to America with disdain and fear. They think we’re the crazy dog on the block, driven mad by our chain. Show them we aren’t. Show them that we accept their cultures just as they have accepted ours. Let them feed you, love you, and learn from you, and you feed, love, and learn from them. This, above all, is the key to your gift. You will be the first global generation unfettered by borders. It’s going to be great.
Don’t eat and drink what we gave you. Follow your stomachs and get rid of sugar and processed foods and all the nasty stuff that killed our grandparents early with heart disease and will eventually give us cancer. Don’t listen to the big food producers and learn from each other. You think fat guys are going to fit in space suits when it’s time?
Use our best, dump the rest. I want you guys to have a Summer of Love. I want you to have great literature. I want you to legalize things. I want you to give people freedom. You are idealists with the ability to truly change things. Our old road is rapidly aging and you’re going to build the new one on Earth and elsewhere. Try to recreate what we did best but use the new tools that are appearing. We’ll be too grumpy to appreciate them. You won’t.
Never fear. There’s going to be a time, soon, when something will happen to sow fear. What did Yoda say? Fear leads to anger. Anger to hate. Hate to the dark side. Do not fear. Fight. Work. Build. That’s the antidote.
Take care of each other. I don’t just mean you three should take care of each other. I’ve seen how happy you can be with your friends, in your clubs and classes, in life. Hold onto that. The next decades are your decades. I won’t be following where you go soon but I can show you our old maps and hope they help. But for real help, look to each other.
Don’t listen to people when they tell you you’re fickle or weird or little snowflakes. If, by snowflakes, they mean you expect respect and dignity then they are absolutely right. The worst insult they can throw at you these days is feminist or social justice warrior or, basically, millennials. Show them that women will run the world. Show them that social justice is worth fighting for. Show them that you’re going to lap them again and again with your wit, your intelligence, and your wisdom.
Your grandparents are the escaping pilgrims — hard people driven by fear and persecution to escape over the waves. They were disappointed idealists confused by money. My generation are the children of pilgrims — we still believe in witches but we’re OK with college and rock and roll and letting women vote. You guys are the next wave, the true inheritors of our society and the culture. And I want you to take that inheritance and dismantle it for parts.
The bottom line is simple: the future is now yours. Anyone who tells you different is trying to curtail your rights. Be sensible, don’t boast, but with a little patience and a lot of work you can remake the world in your image.
We worked hard to build a way out for you. We made instantaneous communication commonplace, media as slick as mercury, relationships as easy as a swipe. So take those tools and connect with everyone. Mix, mingle, create. Tear down the old walls between races and regions. Destroy religion and fear. Build bonds of mutual respect.
And there are going to be people who are telling you that I’m wrong. But what did I say first? Don’t listen to me or them unless it makes sense. And when you see a man spitting at a woman for wearing the wrong thing, a man shooting people because he believes they are inferior, a man stealing millions to line his pockets then understand I mean what I say: don’t do what we did. Do things differently. And, when you think back on me and the rest of us who tried to help, smile and know we’re proud of you.
Mom and Dad