When I was young, I wasn’t jaded by the news or by history or by fellow human beings. I really thought the world was on the edge of greatness and that maybe I was the one to tip it. Some called me idealistic, but that didn’t stop me.
Some of those ideals have propelled me through life, and I’m grateful for them. And as a nation we owe a debt to brave young men and women who are willing to take risks, to be bold and courageous. They are the dreamers, the visionaries and the people who plant seeds that sometimes take a lifetime to harvest.
But I read a report that stopped me in my tracks the other day. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released its first “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Towards Socialism”. The survey showed a well-defined generational gap regarding communism and socialism between older and younger Americans.
Whereas 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans believe that communism is a problematic system, just 55 percent of millennials say the same.
Half of Americans aged 16-20 say they would vote for socialist, 21 percent for a communist.
I’m not going to dismiss this as ignorance or silliness as some have. I believe Millennials and Gen-x ers have really thought this through. They’ve given up hope.
This is not the world we intended
I’m apologizing to my children and all the other millennials. This is not the world we meant to leave you.
Some of this is due to the current election cycle. Politics are not even appealing, as the name-calling-mud-slinging-tired-promises message is simply not resonating.
Younger people see the supposed “best of the best” on the stage, the final two candidates. I viewed YouTube video by Mark Gungor that compared the two as the choice between “a pig and a criminal.”
No wonder the youth are losing hope.
Two out of three millennials see Hillary Clinton as “dishonest.” Only 19 percent see Donald Trump as “levelheaded.” Their chosen candidate, Bernie Sanders is a proclaimed Socialist and he still is widely admired.
No matter who wins, the millenials will be four years older the next cycle, and I’m betting they will be clamoring for a different system.
They’ve lost hope because of reckless spending. My generation has spawned back-breaking debt, which no one talks about today. But a check with the US Debt Clock shows federal spending has driven us to $19 trillion in debt. And the number keeps spinning. That’s $165,000 per taxpayer – all ages included.
Churches, in a mad dash to appear relevant have lost their relevance. They installed ash trays outside the buildings and pastors dressed in torn jeans and the music grew louder but the call to something pure and true has fallen to a whisper.
Our promise that education would lead to prosperity has proven a farce. Between 1985 and 2015, schools increased theirs costs fivefold and yet the corresponding wages for graduates have fallen.
I get the appealIn the United States, a full 51% of people aged 18–29 do not support capitalism. That’s why when Bernie Sanders talked about seizing the wealthy of the rich, nationalizing large industries, and instituting single payer healthcare, it was appealing.
Why is this? In their lifetimes they’ve never seen a system that works.
They aren’t thinking about the big picture about just who is going to pay for this. But in our current system, no one is thinking about that either. For every two dollars spent by our government, another dollar is borrowed. That’s a disaster in any home, and certainly not sustainable for a government.
The idea of turning it all off and trusting government for solutions seems so easy. But the history of socialism isn’t pretty.
Socialism sounds like “social justice,” with appeals that seem compassionate and Christian. But stealing from others – even if they are rich – is not a faith value. And the entire thought process is based on envy, a deadly sin if I ever saw one.
Here’s Where the Hope Is
I go to a church packed with Millenials, Gen –Xers and little baby toddlers. I see in their faces hope. They are living in community, a world away from the drumbeat of the news cycle.
They have hope because Christianity offers answers they can’t get anywhere else.
While churches have been part of the problem, if done right, they can be part of the answer.
Our youth don’t want to see God as a buddy. They are over that. They want to hear about the God of the Bible – tough on sin, but easy on forgiveness. They want black and white, even if it means being uncomfortable. Our pastor, Chad Brugeman talks often about “embracing the discomfort” because it leads to an authentic life.
Church done right gives hope because it offers meaning. Rather than attendance-based guilt, great churches allow people to become problem solvers, rolling up their sleeves to help the communities’ underprivileged outside the city gates. It’s a place where gifts and passions can be manifest.
The call to follow Jesus, to lay everything down is appealing to those who have seen my generation hold on to everything. When Jesus said, ‘The last will be first,” it wasn’t a cute saying for a small group of disciples. It was a clarion call for a multitude of generations. Quit striving and let it go.
This generation has been called many things, but I choose to call them the Hero Generation. They will be the ones to harness technology with passion with compassion. They will fix the problems we’ve laid at their feet. They can do all of this as long as they do not give up hope.