To Every Author of “Millennials are Ruining _____”,
I’m sorry that I have ruined an image for you of what the future ought to be. I wish I could say that I don’t sympathize with you, but you’ve put me into a difficult position.
I’ve stood by the LGBTQ+ community for years, I never attended conventional mass, I never wanted to answer the phone when military recruitment called, I’ve taken contraception, narcissistic selfies, and I have protested alongside hippies. I am the epitome of all the ideas that cause you to write seething editorials about millennials ruining the country. Do you want me to confess that I am the godless, entitled, liberal trash that you accuse me of being? I will endure your misplaced hatred, and sure, I’ll wear the shoes if they fit.
I rode the bus on spare change, I biked on your precious sidewalks, I will never buy any diamonds, I barely pay my bills by serving in a shopping mall that I don’t patronize, I’m not interested in golf courses, and I certainly don’t enjoy cruises. Yes, I like avocados, but I don’t eat bacon. No, I’m not a vegan. (That well-intentioned lifestyle is too expensive for a college student. Have you seen the price of vegan food? Now that’s a luxury).
I don’t contribute to the particular economy that you hold so dearly in editorials of nostalgic, All-American wealth and the promise of entitlements. In fact, it’s likely I will never benefit from the same niceties that you have in my own retirement age.
I probably won’t have children either. Not because I hate traditional family values, but because I have some very bleak news.
By 2050, the world you know will be over. Water resources are already dwindling, rates of birth defects are rising, the oceans are warming, the glaciers are melting, many cities are so polluted that many people wear face-masks on their daily errands, and I may purchase my dream home only to watch it devastated by crown fires in a drought a season later. I will live to see the carbon emissions exceed the critical point. I will live to see the carrying capacity plateau. I will live to see 25% of all mammals you know go extinct.
…and I want so badly to blame you. I want to have Someone to battle, but I can’t entertain those satisfying daydreams of scolding you for all the horrible predicaments you have left me.
I no longer believe that you are as evil as you think I am.
My great-grandfather – a loving husband and father, a wonderful, proud veteran of the Navy, man of God, wildlife enthusiast, and Nicholas Sparks fan – changed my mind.
I flew out to visit him while he was recovering from his most recent stroke, and he spoke some hope into me about the beauty of this world and the goodness of people. Before I left he gave me the most genuine apology I have ever needed to hear, precisely when I needed most to hear it.
“My great regret, Adriene, is the state of the world. I am sorry for the mess we are leaving you. I’m sorry that the world is such a mess and you have to fix it.”
I was so afraid that those were going to be his last words, and after years of seeing him treat Nature and God with the utmost respect and appreciation, I couldn’t let it go. I’m still afraid that he will leave this world feeling a Guilt that is not his.
Dear Author, I’m not completely heartless, and I’m so close to forgiving you.
But I need your help.
I need you to stop attacking me.
I need you to stop blaming the flawed economy on me.
I need you to stop calling me a heathen.
I need you to stop calling me a slut and a f*g.
I need you to stop accusing me of free-loading.
I need you to stop calling me unpatriotic.
Most of all, I need you to start listening.
Because this is now about climate change. While these prejudices can be worked out in a foreseeable future, with climate change pressing down on us, there is no future.
I don’t want your Guilt, I want your attention.
I want your compassion.
I want your action.
I want you to learn to coexist, and that means sacrificing familiarity for what is sustainable.
We cannot hold onto comforting dissonance and survive as a species. These are undeniable facts, and we need to pick our battles carefully. If we want to have breathable air and drinkable water, we need to establish our priorities and work together. We need to think seven generations ahead. We need to cut our carbon footprint.
I cannot imagine what my future will look like if everyone else remains cemented in apathy and old habit. It fills me with more dread than any editorial you could write about “Millennials Ruining _______.”
Please prove my great-grandfather’s words, “People are good inside.”