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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown. Part 4...

Generational change;  this is where the series continues and I will first start with a little personal story about my childhood that nobody has ever heard before.  

When I was a toddler, I went to preschool and I really do not know if that process helped anything because there is not much of substance I remember about it.  After that process I began going to primary school and I was introduced to a word that confused me for many years to come:  respect.  This is the same exact word I have been writing about for the majority of this series, but to be completely honest, I did not know the exact definition of it until I was about twelve years old.  

Respect was one of those words I understood somewhat because after hearing it in context numerous times, I began putting the pieces together, but it was not until I was about twelve years old that I took the time to actually look it up in a dictionary.  You see, when I was a kid, my parents and family put a great deal of effort into making sure my sister and I were brought up with high morals and understood the proper way to treat people.  We were shown how to live our lives in a relevant way without attaching any sort of defining words to those actions.  As far as I was concerned, our actions were not a part of any terminology, but just something we did, if that makes any sense.  Over time, I figured out there were many people all around me who were brought up in much different environments where the same morals were not applied as a part of their existence.  This has a point, stay with me...

Regardless of what situation we are reared into, there is still a natural, human desire to have respect for someone else;  at least, I feel that way.  Anyone who has a solid mental stability does not desire to hurt people instinctively from the point of birth, but to grow into life alongside others.  This happens in every other part of nature, so why would we be any different?  Somewhere along the line, our visions and expectations can become skewed, however, and the negative actions of those surrounding us can lead to our own actions changing in the same way, which also spreads the same idea to others.  After a while and with enough exposure, those actions become more and more accepted as justified over the span of generations.  

When television first came into existence, there was no question of anything vulgar showing up on the screen in your home while your children watched;  this just did not happen.  Then someone pushed the envelope to test the limits of censorship one time.  After that point the reserve factor of television shows has been continually stretched over time and still is to this day.  This is the exact same principle behind anything else in life.  With time, actions which were not accepted in the past slowly creep into the mindset of being tolerated, and eventually accepted by most of the public.  The concept of respect and what it actually means has been evolving exactly the same way for generations now and we are at the point of being entirely selective with the parameters of the word's actual meaning.

When one generation sets a certain level of tolerance, the following generation always takes it a step further, and to the following, and the cycle continues.  Sometimes this can be for good reasons of accepting certain issues that were looked down upon previously, but the negative examples tend to be much more prominent and defined.  Fifty years ago, tattoos were not tolerated by the majority of people and now they are.  I love tattoos and have four myself, so this is a good example of tolerance.  The person who gets a profanity-laden tattoo across his stomach, on the other hand?  That is subject to scrutiny and goes back to our selective attributes of respect for other people because of it.  Hey, I am guilty of of sneering at something like that in private.  We all are, but there are other people out there who would tease, mock, or intentionally anger this person publicly as well, which is an even worse reality to behold.

Should I start a movement to protect people from being publicly judged and scrutinized because of their questionably-chosen tattoos?  No.  The problem still lies at it's very core as having respect for someone else.  The person with the vulgar tattoo somewhere in their life most likely developed issues with their self-respect and made a questionable tattoo choice, which became other people not having respect for him/her because of that choice.  See?  Everything has a line of successive reaction.  Everything starts somewhere.

Well, what is my point in saying all of this?
How do we fix this?
Simply put, everyone has flaws and everyone has moments of their respect levels for other people slipping.  Unfortunately, this is the world we currently live in and is a necessary evil for survival as well as being part of the psyche we have developed over many years of trial and error concerning what is and is not acceptable by our society.  We are all a product of an increasing thick skin necessity that began a very long time ago, before we were even imagined. The only way to escape any of this is through a generational change, and such a thing can happen, but this takes a commitment of more time than any of us are given individually.  

Redefining and restructuring the mindset of the current generation of Millennials is not any more possible than attempting to do the same for Generation-X;  we simply cannot be swayed in that manner.  The generation behind us now who are still in diapers are most likely on the same page, because some of them are already getting a grasp on the world surrounding them.  The only hope we have for generational change is those who follow them;  our grandchildren.  This is a slow process, but it can work if we all get on the same page and begin fizzling-out the more negative and public attributes as they pertain to a lack of respect for others.  

The Millennial generation that I am a part of is making babies, many, many babies, and my point is that we can make the world better for them than the world we grew up in; though we do not have enough time left in our lives to change it.  I am not saying we should shelter them and keep them away from reality, but we can show them a more positive and respectful future than we were given.  Progress and evolution grow with time and for centuries, we have been growing in the wrong direction.  We can start the reversal with our own generation of children and maybe by the time they have children of their own, that generation will be of a more respectful mindset and want to influence for the better instead of teaching them how hideous the world is.  

This task is huge, but not impossible.  The method we use now of breaking down the concept of respect into so many different pieces and creating new sets of rules is outdated and has not ever worked effectively.  In order to make change in the future, we all need to cause change now.  As a generation, we are too far gone and set in our own personal ways to make a drastic change in ourselves without reverting back, but if we teach the next generation the positive aspects of life so that is all they know, the odds of them carrying this lifestyle to the next generation is much more likely.  

What do we all have as a way to spread the message and leave behind a better imprint?  Besides actual interaction, we have social media and we are in-tune with it; we CREATED it.  Just think that over for a moment.  Anything and everything you do online is permanent.  Privacy settings or not, by digging deep enough, if you have ever posted anything questionable on social media in the past that you are embarrassed by, it is still out there somewhere.  My own Facebook is private and has been since day one, but if I search certain terms on Google in just the right way, some of the past comments I am ashamed of or embarrassed by today do come up.  As a generation, we can do better.

The things we write now, even more importantly than the things we do now are the exact factors the next generations will use to judge us.  If we do something stupid without any witnesses, we take it to the grave;  if we do or say something stupid online, it is permanent.  By throwing away the more negative aspects, frustrations, and strong wording we have become so accustomed to posting online, we open the door to actual communication with a real person.  When someone needed to vent or get something stressful out of their system a few years ago, they had an actual person beside them to listen and show support.  Now, many of us turn our personal issues into a public forum, which makes the initial problem worse.  Those who live after us do not need to see that, our future children do not need to see that, and this is step one in reversing the problem of respect degradation in our society.  

You may think this is far-fetched and impossible, but it is not.  Think back to 1800's America when the majority of people were pro-slavery. The people of America, on their own accord, began to slowly to believe slavery was immoral until those passionate enough to want to make the change jumped in to do something about it.  A war broke out, a country was divided, but eventually we went from a country of a pro-slavery majority to a country of an anti-slavery majority.  The issues continued, and one hundred years later, The Civil Rights Movement happened so things could get better even further.  Here we are more than fifty years past that point and we are still working on making that entire situation right, but we are getting closer and have not given up.
This entire chain of historical events was not about creating rules to help people, but instead to break every rule in order to do so.  Think about that.

The point of all of this is that if we want to cause a generational change, we can; and we have before.  But we need to stop breaking down the main issue into so many different sub-headings as a way to create rules and restrictions.  By starting at the core of the problem and making an effort to have a positive impact on the next generation, they can follow suit with enough of an initial push by us, but we must start somewhere...  

Let us not make the issue more complicated that it has to be.

Continued in Part 5...

Grace and Peace,



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