Maybe the whole generational divide thing is just an invention to create angst. Maybe the Boomer-versus-Millennial trope is false.
But one of the comments I’ve seen around those sorts of arguments in the last few years is that Millennials have a chance to be the next Greatest Generation. It sounds good, doesn’t it? I want to be known as part of a group who were awesome, like my great-grandparents! I bear my great-grandma’s name (Rose), and of everyone in my family, my mom can’t stop talking about my great-grandpa, Tony. They even lived long enough (both of them, to over 100) for me to get to know them pretty well. And they lived small, and lived faithful, and lived well. They lived a lot of sacrifice, and they lived a lot of love, and they lived a lot of tough times.
So, here’s the thing, Millennials. We can’t just slide into being Great. We can’t just trip into the DMs of history.
It takes sacrifice, and it takes sacrificial love. It takes living small and faithful through hard times. One of the things I’d wondered about when I heard these “the Millennials can be the next Greatest Generation!” comments was, “How? What would set us apart as a group of character? What would catalyze or facilitate the sort of behavior that would make history take note?”
Well, y’all. Here it is. On a disposable paper plate/in a to-go box/delivered with plastic-gloved service.
Brothers and Sisters of Millennial-ville, we’ve been underestimated. We’ve been maligned. It’s time to shine. Except that shining in this case means TO STAY THE EFF HOME.
Stop going out to bars. Stop hanging out at Target. Assume that you’re one of the up to a third (!!!) of cases that will be asymptomatic. Let’s play pretend (y’all, we’ve been doing that for YEARS with our bank accounts, so, let’s do it this way, too) we already are sick, and let’s behave accordingly. We could be petri dishes right now, full of the virus, ready to breathe it on to somebody else. Maybe somebody with an underlying condition, or maybe somebody who lives with their grandma.
We have been training for social distancing with Instagram and Netflix and Facebook for our entire adult lives — we can do this! Like good ole Rosie the Riveter, a la Greatest Generation, let us step up and stay home. It takes sacrifice, I think of my brother who lives alone in NYC, of the loneliness that must claw at his mental health day and night; I think of the stories of doctors that have recently started coming out about self-quarantining away from their young families; I think of people in the service industry who have lost or are losing their income, if not their jobs; I think of the stay-at-home-working-parents who are losing their minds. This is the path to strong character, friends — there is no easy way out. There is no easy way to strong love and to great service. It takes actual discomfort, actual pain, real self-inflicted inconvenience. But we can do it. I mean, speaking as a priest and a Christian, I don’t know how we can do it without Jesus (and, I gotta say, I think the Greatest Generation would agree with me on that), but we can do it.
And on a lighter note: by staying home instead of dashing out to buy some shredded cheese for homemade nachos last night, I discovered — you aren’t ready for this, I know it — PIMENTO CHEESE NACHOS. Friends. What discoveries are you missing by going out these days?