I have heard many authors and journalists refer to us in different ways. The Lost Generation. Disenfranchized Youth. Generation Next (or was that Pepsi?). No matter how you phrase it, the verdict is in: we are trapped under the weight of those who have gone before us. The Baby Boomers and the Hippies, the Revolutionaries, these are the great thinkers of our time, and we can't possibly live up to their standards. We are burdened by our own destiny, a destiny of mediocrity. Those ahead of us have created economies that can't support themselves, and those behind us are greater in number than our generation can hope to support.
I have heard others of my generation agree with this prognosis, bemoaning our lackluster inheritance. They express a desire to change the world, but an utter helplessness to do so. My reaction to this sentiment has developed over the past ten years, varying from sympathy to despair, but as I round out the end of my twenties, I have honed my response down to a single, passionate, utterly descriptive word:
That's right, I am officially, publicly, and without apology, calling Shenanigans. We have more information and resources at our disposal than our parents could have dreamt of fifty years ago, and we have more expanding and developing job markets than this muddy little sphere of a planet has ever seen. Walt Disney would have wet himself to be twenty years old today, and he was an immigrant-farmer's son from Kansas, a high school dropout who was rejected from the Army.
We do not have less opportunity than our parents, we have more. Corporate giants are itching to latch onto the next great idea so they can say they had it first. Technology has progressed to the point where we really can build anything we can dream. And we have the added advantage over our parents of knowing that drugs are bad and will mess you up.
We have a chance to be the greatest generation of all, but we have to fulfill it. Nobody is going to hand us respect and innovation, it's up to us to make it happen. The achievement of others does not diminish our accomplishments, but augment them, giving them purpose and shape. We will never emerge from the shadow of our parents and grandparents until we respect ourselves as much as we respect them.
In short, my beloved peers, it's time for us to grow up. We have the power and the tools to leave this world better than we found it, but we'll never get there at this rate. It's time to stop caring more about what other people think of us than what is right. It's time to care more about being better than about looking better. It's time to stop hiding in the back of the classroom, trying not to get called on because we don't want anyone to know how bright and special we really are.
So, to the members of the formerly lost, but soon to be found generation, I say: Tomorrow is here. It's time to wake up.