Stay with me on this one. And if you are a millennial, you are my focus reader. The rest of us are depending on you.
There are two driving forces in the world. One is optimism and the other is idealism. Optimism is an act of hopefulness while idealism is believing in something we know to be right. While optimism relies on the actions of others or maybe just dumb luck, idealism calls us into action.
The problem with idealism is that over time it wanes. As we grow older and we add experience upon experience, we can become cynical. When things we fought for don’t work out or maybe never come to fruition, we start to lose the optimism that our idealism needs as fuel. We become less willing to fight the good fight and worse yet, we grow conservative in our thinking. After all, you can only be disappointed so many times before you decide the price of idealism is just too high.
I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and understand first hand what idealism feels like. Our issues were an unwanted war in Vietnam, a corrupt President and a lack of respect for our environment. I exercised my voice with my vote and my feet. I protested in walks, sat at sit ins and wore my peace sign and POW bracelet. Mine never came home and was never found, but I wore that bracelet until my idealism started to wane. I was, as my children can attest to, a hippy as idealistic as they come. I even found a way to trick my father into making peace signs on his punch press at the plant he worked in, but that is another story.
Even though my generation, the Woodstock Generation, has lost much of its idealism over the years, we never the less accomplished much. The war eventually was abandoned, the President actually resigned and we now have, for the time being, the EPA. Air quality was improved, water ways were cleaned up and we reduced our carbon footprint; though it still needs to continue its progress.
If there seems to be an echo here, I am hoping that you can hear its call. As millennials you are well equipped to lead the next fight. Your generation is networked, adaptive and opportunistic. You have taken the internet to the social network it is today. You are connected to people worlds away and yet you communicate as if they are in the same room. You are graduating from college with degrees you may never find careers in but this does not deter you. You adapt to the market place and redefine yourself and the job. You are opportunistic. You do not wait for opportunity to knock, you go looking for it and you seize it.
I am concerned with the state of politics and the impact on our nation and its image and yes, its future. I will dig deep to find the willingness to fight but I need someone whose idealism is still fresh so that I may fight along side you. Our hope is in the belief that your idealism will see us through this next round of appearing to step backward when we have been so poised to step forward. I tip my hat to Janis Joplin in Me and Bobby McGee, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”. We cannot lose our freedom to complacency. We cannot give it up to efficiency. We cannot let it slip away to cost savings and we can certainly not let ignorance steal it from us.
Idealism has defined this nation. Idealism is the force that makes us act. I am encouraging you, the millennials, to hold dear to your idealism. Define your issues, identify your fight and lead us forward to the next decade. We are behind you because in that position we are ready to follow. Lead us forward and we promise to stay focused and yes, even optimistic.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end.