Monday, May 01, 2006

Generations

I am at a summit this week where leaders from all over the United Methodist Church have come together to discuss how to better attract young adult clergy. Currently the average age for clergy is in the high 50's and the percentage of those who are under 30, the demographic to which I belong, is in the single digits.

Even the concept of such a summit raises a number of issues I could talk about, and probably will over the next little while. I'll stick with one for the moment, though. The question for the moment is what can we really say definitively about "this" generation, of which I am ostensibly a part? What defines Gen Y/ Millennials/ whatever you want to call it?

Sure, there are some broad statements you can make that apply to a large number of people my age, but nothing applies to everyone. We don't all blog, for crying out loud! How far is too far? Do we do too much to pigeon hole young people? For that matter, who gets included? I was born in 1980 but sometimes I can't understand people 5 years younger than me.

On the other hand, it's probably dangerous to say nothing at all in an attempt to respect our individuality. Can we honestly say that none of us can really empirically know anything about another person, that it's all relative and we're completely blinded by the location from which we speak? That's a depressing thought. Young people fell alone and depressed enough as it is.

Ironically, maybe the only generalization we can make about "this" generation is that we want neither to fit into a preconstructed mold nor do we want to be so rabidly individualistic that we can't connect with anybody. We want to throw off the oppressive yoke of either/or dualisms and ask different kinds of questions all together as we attempt to define just who "we" are.

If there is such a thing as "this generation", and to some extent I think there is, then at the very least we have in common the fact that we are going to inherit this world previous generations have created for us. Hopefully we can do our part to make this world a little bit better than we found it. Of course we'll make our share of mistakes, and those will be the things the next generation will complain about.

When they write the history books on "this generation" I'm pretty sure I won't have even a footnote to my name. But hopefully I and all the other uncredited folks can have the satisfaction of doing our part so that future generations can have enough choices to have the luxury of agonizing over what will define who "they" are just like "we" are fortunate enough to be able to do now.

1 comment:

annie said...

Hi Matt -

Found your blog randomly. Just thought I'd leave a note that I was here. :) Your thoughts are quite interesting. Familiar to me, as well. I'm a Christian also, and I suspect we have a few things in common apart from our faith. I picked the same background and theme for my blog, and post philosophical posts that probably tend to exhaust my *very* small readership more often than I care to admit. I also love debate (as you termed it "honest dialouge about important issues") - a fact which tends to frustrate my husband more often than not. He loves debate, but not with his wife, so much. ;) Anyway. Best of everything to you! Check out my blog if you want ... God bless!