Opinion: We Owe a Debt of Gratitude to the Younger Generation

Walter Rhein

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One of the hardest things about living in the United States of America, particularly during the holiday season, is watching people struggle. Many young people are saddled with crushing student debt. Some people like to blame young people. They say, “Well, you should have picked a more practical subject to study.”

But those arguments are deflections. The fact is that there are whole industries in the United States that generate fortunes based on exploiting young people.

The other day my daughter muttered, “The world is going to be a mess when my generation takes over.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because my generation is lazy and it’s ruining everything,” she replied.

“Your generation hasn’t done anything yet,” I said. “The people who ruined the world are the older generations. They’re the ones who destroyed the environment. They’re the ones who tricked young people into taking on bad student loans. You should be angry at the older generations, not sit around and blame yourself for the mess they made.”

I could tell she was skeptical about this advice. The truth is, our society loves to bash young people. Young people have no way to defend themselves. It’s the older people writing the articles. It’s the older people who own the media.

When was the last time you remember a news story that thanked young people? Perhaps the holiday season is an appropriate time to reflect on something like that. Why is it so hard to recognize that young people work hard and do an excellent job?

Without young people, our society would fall apart.

Young people make up the majority of the US military. In the United States, people pretend as if they think it’s essential to respect the military. However, then they turn around and insult the generation that comprises the military. That’s hypocritical.

Think about what it’s like for some kid who is serving abroad who has to read constant articles that claim his generation is a “disappointment.” If you think it’s important to thank people in the military for their service, then remember that you’re thanking young people.

Young people are also what keep our healthcare system afloat. Young people are less likely to need expensive health care. Therefore, the money they spend on insurance premiums mainly goes to the elderly.

It seems to me that it’s pretty disrespectful for elderly people to write nasty articles. Young people make health care affordable for older people. If our young people would wise up and refuse to pay for health care it might bring the whole system to its knees.

I think it’s troubling that my daughter is exposed to messaging that shames her just for the fact that she’s young. She’s a hard-working person. She isn’t responsible for the problems in our society.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where people who were actually at fault took responsibility for their mistakes?

Every time older generations criticize young people, they’re only criticizing themselves. The older generations raised the young people. If the young people “didn’t turn out well” it’s because they had incompetent and abusive parents.

In a fair society, our news cycle would be filled with articles bashing the older generations. The younger generations are innocent. Instead, we have a culture that exploits young people in many ways. Unfortunately, many of our young people don’t survive this treatment.

The United States of America needs to demonstrate more responsible behavior on every level. This holiday season, take the time to thank a young person. They’re already contributing more than you know. Sadly, it will be their job to fix the mistakes of their parents.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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