Someday, we millennials will rule the world. Like in a game of spin the bottle, soon the bottle will stop spinning and point its neck straight toward us, much to our anticipation and dread. The world will be deposited into our laps with the passage of time, the way conveyor belts do with a work in process. And indeed, the world is just like that—a work in process, left for us by the preceding generations. What will that make of us? A better question is: What will our stewardship make of the world?
Expectedly, this generation is the last one in the party. We arrived a little late, but we couldn’t have it any better. We came to the party with the institutions, the privileges, and advancements that the previous guests had brought. We arrived at the pinnacle of progress and frolicked on it, with the Baby Boomers’ raised eyebrows and the Gen-Xers’ wide-eyed fascination.
Per custom, we always get elbowed at these parties. “This one will be the lawyer of the family.” “Hijo will attend my alma mater, of course. No alternatives.” “Anak will take over the business. She has to learn the industry; there is no other way.” “We can’t wait for the apo. We want many and we hope to see them soon!”
We grimace, fake a smile, grab a flute of champagne and down it.
Except that this year, the party just got a tad too strange. The institutions are changing, with some uprooted and overhauled. The adults are behaving differently. The rules at the dining table have taken a new turn, and the dishes served are difficult to swallow. We wished that the drinks at this party were stronger. But we didn’t drag ourselves through the party this year, dazed and all. What did we do instead? We rose to the occasion. But did we, really?
It doesn’t take a lot of second-guessing to presume that 2016 was an onerous year. The world has lost legends and stalwarts from Bowie to Ali. Terror attacks were a bloodbath. The Syrian refugee crisis was devastating. The Zika virus plowed through Brazil in the advent of the Rio Olympics. There was the Orlando shooting. The world temperature was at an all-time high. And, of course, global politics has been divisive and vitriolic. In retrospect, 2016 was radical, surprising, at times blood-curdling.
Many of these events were beyond the sphere of our control. Nonetheless, as a generation we responded with open hearts and innovative minds. In a schismatic world, we stood out for our “acceptance of homosexuality, expanded roles for women and immigrants,” as stated by Pew Research Center. It also said millennials have the highest volunteerism rate across generations, in a world where poverty is still on a rampage. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report revealed that 84 percent of millennials made charitable contributions, in light of our changing economy. The majority of millennials are also passionate about climate change, with 71 percent favoring alternative sources of energy.
Some say millennials are considered the most civic-minded in a long time. That seems apparent whether in social media news feeds or in recent street protests. This generation seems to be armored with wit and candor, to the surprise of older generations. And much to the surprise of this young generation is a new responsibility being handed down by the elders: “You have some serious cleaning up to do.” The party has become strange, indeed. But we’re up to it.
Zeitgeist. The spirit of the times. The hippies had civil rights and liberation. The Gen-Xers had marriage equality and work/life balance. And that leaves us. As a generation, how do we want to be remembered?
One day, we will rule the world. That day is sure to come. Scripture says that our adversaries are not of flesh and blood but of spirit. We then must aim not to fight against personalities or institutions, as we may be prone to doing in our energetic youth. But we continue to yearn for equality and for education. We act against poverty and oppression. We fight for what the zeitgeist calls us to do. And as for future generations? As for those who came before us? Well, we’ll fight for them, too.
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