We’ve all been showered with love and ambition, and we don’t know what to do with it.
These were the words of my son during a discussion about what I termed the “unprecedented” opportunities for his generation. His statement stuck out and made me think.
A little background: At the time of writing this, Eitan is 22. He is in his second year of university studying government and counter-terrorism. Eitan joined the Israeli Defence Forces as a lone-soldier right out of high school where he spent three years in a Golani combat unit. He has had the opportunity to travel well beyond his incubated upbringing in Canada, and today his social circle is global. He has friends from Canada, USA, UK, Africa, Australia, Israel (Jewish, Arab Christian, Muslim), and so on. I would say that his experiences are quite diverse…and boy, does he have opinions! Typical and healthy at this age.
He and his friends are very wary of governments, bureaucracy, and a self-serving society. They are overtly critical of media, lack of privacy, and consumerism, although they participate in a society where these are ubiquitous. Eitan does not want to be defined by others and yet he cannot define who he necessarily wants to be. I admire him and his friends, and the passion to make their lives matter. As I write this, it’s Friday night in Herzliya Petuach. The beach in the distance and a warm wind blowing through this affluent beach town, my son and a dozen or so of his friends are making dinner, and the wine and scotch flowing. They are a close bunch – and I can’t help but feel a tinge of envy for simpler times and a more idealistic period in my life.
When Eitan and his friends talk, I love how they speak about every subject with such passion – they are purposeful in their desire to bring meaning and change, to be part of creating a better world. When he launches into a tirade I listen. I quietly smile and am proud – because he is not satisfied with merely existing or the status quo, he wants to own it.
Eitan and his friends have the wonderful privilege of being together and depending on each other away from home, in a country known for its passions and for surviving by determination and innovation. They are a family finding its purpose, discovering life together, motivated to make a difference. It seems to me a pretty healthy way to dock with the mother ship that is adulthood. But this is not the case for many of this generation who find themselves isolated and alone.
In Moving Through Walls I talk about my fears for a generation in crisis. I am deeply concerned that there is a pessimism amongst our children, who, faced with so much opportunity and cause for FOMO (fear of missing out), feel overwhelmed by the accomplishments that came before them and the feeling that there is nothing new to bring to the table (MTW, Self-worth, page 209). With time on their hands, money at their disposal, and the coddling of parents who want to provide them with the best, they are experiencing a crisis in purpose and meaning.
Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.
The number of kids dying is overwhelmingly scary. I do not believe these kids are intentional about killing themselves. I do believe, however, that many of these highly intelligent and educated youth are simply bored, and that this boredom is killing them. The youth of today are becoming increasingly frustrated by political polarization, religious hypocrisy, and poor judgments, and lack examples of people they can look up to.
Our kids rightly expect so much more from us. The time is now to connect with this generation. They are screaming for our help. We have a responsibility to provide these young people with the challenges they so desire. This demographic must be given a sense that they have the most important mission yet, and that is to protect, build, and sustain society to its greatest potential. Just as we, as individuals, can become great, so can our global society become greater. And maybe that is just the point here. Kids today are moving beyond the individualistic “me” to the purposely “we.”
Let’s make sure that they know we hear them, and let’s give them the reigns of leadership to make good use of all that we have imbued them with.
Thank you for making me a part of your journey. Please let me know how it’s coming along. We are all capable of moving through walls!