When I hear people my age (35+) rip the younger generation I usually keep my mouth shut. But I have something I need to say, so this is my public response to the people who think there is something wrong with young people today.

Let me tell you what I think about young people:

The kids coming of age right now are the greatest generation, and we don’t give them the respect and freedom we were given and it is shameful.

When we were young, our elders trusted us to drink at 18. In contrast, today, because of our own insecurities and fears, we send our 18-year-olds off to the deserts of the Middle East to be dismembered or killed and when they are lucky enough to return alive we throw them in jail for drinking underage. We have dozens of laws and regulations which apply only to those under 21. Laws that do not apply to us and never did, even when we were 18.

It is a testimony to their maturity and character that they treat us with the respect they do. The Baby Boomers rioted in the streets over this type of blatant prejudice.

Some have labeled today’s generation the entitlement generation.

When I hear you complain about the salaries they demand… I think… I wish I had expected more when I was young. Besides, have you seen the price of a home today? You want to sell your homes for a 300% profit, but you won’t pay young families enough to afford them, and then you cry about the housing bubble. Were you stoned in econ 101?

It’s time young people understand the value they provide. Who told them that the best way to earn money was to buy an expensive education? We did. And now they have high expectations and we criticize them?

I hear complaints that the younger generation isn’t loyal. Good. Why should they be loyal? They watched as corporations fired their ‘loyal’ parents and grandparents by the thousands in the 80s and 90s. Loyal to who? And for what? These kids aren’t stupid. They can learn from history.

I’m grateful so many young people – some just out of high school, others just a year or so out of college are thinking, growing, and changing the world, making it better for everyone, while building value for themselves and everyone else.

The Millennial Generation stands in sharp contrast to the last two generations.

We (the GenX and the Boomer generations) squandered the opportunities we had when we were young. Many of us acted like rich unhappy brats burning through mommy and daddy’s money at the amusement park and our excesses and stupidity led to the authoritarian nanny state we have today. Young people are the ones who are going to dismantle it. We won’t, because we don’t know how to live without mommy and daddy (Big Fat Government) protecting us and fixing everything we fail to take responsibility for.

When we cry about how we must protect children from the evils of drugs and crime, we project our fear of our own past onto a younger generation, a fear that they might be as stupid and irresponsible as we were, so we created a police state to crack down on rebellious youths, when we needed to crack down on ourselves.

I am from the older half of GenX (born in the 60s) and I have four older brothers in the boomer generation. My brothers grew up in a medium sized (pop 25,000) Midwest town and all graduated in the 1970s.

After watching Dazed and Confused, I asked my brother, “Was high school like that in the 1970s?”

He said, “No, I was a freak, and that movie didn’t scratch the surface. You saw the good kids in that movie – the jocks. I recall one morning in 1977 when a student brought two sheets (200 doses) of acid to school and sold them all before homeroom. That day was fuckin’ crazy.”

That was just one day, at one school in the 1970s, and it was happening from coast to coast. Cut to today – do you believe there are days when 200 kids are running around a medium sized Midwestern high school hallucinating on LSD? I don’t think so. If they are, I’d be damn surprised. Today, most of them are smarter than that.

Mike Males gives us the facts in his NYT column:

What experts label “adolescent risk taking” is really baby boomer risk taking. It’s true that 30 years ago, the riskiest age group for violent death was 15 to 24. But those same boomers continue to suffer high rates of addiction and other ills throughout middle age, while later generations of teenagers are better behaved. Today, the age group most at risk for violent death is 40 to 49, including illegal-drug death rates five times higher than for teenagers.

When I mention that you refuse to let your kids ride their bikes to the park, you say, “Things are different today. There are more crazies out there.” Yep, and the crazies are us. Middle-aged people are so riddled with anxiety we are eating Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac like Copenhagen at a rodeo. We are afraid of everything, and most of it is delusional. Some of us are screaming, ‘the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming’, others see pedophiles on every park bench, and the rest of us are running around like Chicken Little proclaiming, ‘the sky is falling.”

TV News and Talk Radio is creating your paranoid distorted view of reality. Turn it off.

If we’d open our eyes, we’d see that everything is getting better and safer – even our kids. Violent crime rates are less than half of what they were when we grew up and we have just raised the most educated generation in history.

When you write stories about how young people have a sense of entitlement, I want to shout – WHERE DO YOU THINK THEY GOT IT? We are the ones that think we are entitled to everything. Who invented the concept of the McMansion? I bet he wasn’t 20.

The kids aren’t greedy; we are. And to the extent they are greedy, they learned it from us. If you think kids today have a sense of entitlement, wait until the boomers are fully retired, then you’ll hear the collective whining of 30 million adult children who failed to save for retirement. After all, who ran up 10 trillion dollars in debt living beyond their means?

The next time you hear an adult complaining about how they don’t have enough money for this or that and how life just isn’t fair and how the government needs to do more, remember the last time you saw a child throwing a temper tantrum at the supermarket because his mommy won’t buy him a candy bar and you’ll know what you are listening to – the collective tantrums of us the most spoiled generations in history. I pray the Millennials shake their collective finger at us and say, “you are going to have to learn to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

I know some of you believe we will continue to slip into a dystopian police state because people can’t be trusted. I don’t share your bleak vision. I have faith that future generations will learn to take responsibility for themselves and others without delegating it to an army of tyrants with guns and cages.

In fact, I can’t imagine any other possibility and there is evidence that suggests our future is bright.

What do you want to evolve into? People who are ethical because you understand the self-destructive nature of corruption? People who understand cheating is cheating yourself? People who are good because you know it leads to good things for everyone? People who understand that peace and prosperity go hand in hand?

Pollyannaish? Maybe…

But contrary to popular opinion, humanity is becoming healthier, wealthier, stronger, smarter, kinder, and more ethical with each passing generation. Our shrinking world is making us better – our technology is making us smarter, and our young people are leading the way.

Neil Howe and William Strauss say the Millennial generation is in line to be the next “hero” generation.

They will live up to the expectation.

So listen to them, trust them, and get out of their way. They are creating a better future for all of us.

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