Host: Bojidar Marinov

Summary:

Trust and respect to the younger generation, therefore, is a sign of blessedness, and a sign of God’s favor on a society. Distrust, on the other hand, is a sign of God’s curse. And while it is often a temptation for the older generation to blame the younger generation for their real or imaginary faults, the reality is the sin and blame always lie with the older generation. The Luke 12:48 principle – to whom much is given, much shall be required of him – so well forgotten in our modern American culture, applies to parents and children as well: Parents carry the responsibility for any conflict of generations and any distrust.

Recommended Reading:   Matthias Schwartz and Heike Winkel, editors, Eastern European Youth Cultures in a Global Context

Transcript

Bashing Millennials

Welcome to Episode 25 of Axe to the Root Podcast, part of the War Room Productions, I am Bo Marinov, and for the next 20 minutes we will be talking about Millennials. Y’know, that generation born in the 1980s and the 1990s, who came of age – although, perhaps, not of maturity, as per their critics – in the first decade of the 21st century. (Whence the designation millennials, although, in other places of the world the word comes from a different origin, like mileuristas in Spain, referring to the 1,000 euro government welfare to those who are young and permanently unemployed.) It’s that generation that is also known for its hipster style, conspicuous with its majestic manly beards and lumberjack shirts on men whose practical experience in life seldom goes beyond mastery of little electronic gadgets. A generation that knows little about and cares even less for the gigantic conflicts of the previous century; and as a result, is so eager to repeat many of the mistakes of that century. A generation that is so irreverent to and cynical about the good old traditional collective symbols of the previous generations, and yet eager and zealous to devote itself to causes that to previous generations would seem petty and insignificant.

Actually, no. We are not going to be talking about the millennials. We will be talking about their critics instead. We will be talking about the tens and the hundreds of commentators, psychologists, media pundits, preachers, professors, pastors, politicians, etc., most if not all of them of the baby-boomer generation (in their 60s now) who just love to lambast this younger generation.

Let’s look at just a few headlines of the last few years:

Breitbart, February 15, 2015: “Millennials are the worst generation.”

Inquisitr and Washington Post in March 2015: “American Millennials Are Useless.”

Alternet in September, 2013: “Millennials are the screwed generation.”

Huffington Post in October 2014: “Millennials are messed up.”

National Post in July 2016: “This generation is well and truly garbage.”

Etc., etc., etc.

To the millennials’ credit, some of these criticisms come from millennials themselves; in fact, being the best educated generation in America’s history, their own criticism against their own generation is about the most intelligent self-criticism one can read. The millennial generation is not the self-righteous hippie generation of 50 years back. Remember the hippies? Remember their aversion to any human being that was over 40-year-old? Carlos Castaneda was 43 when he wrote his first hippie bestseller, The Teachings of Don Juan, and till the end of his career as an author he carefully maintained the image of a young man in his early 30s; if his public image reflected his true self – a middle-aged man with a successful but mediocre academic career – his market chances among his target audience, the hippies, would have been reduced to nothing. Hippies adored themselves, and they thought they were smart enough and wise enough to change the world and right all the wrongs in it without the wisdom of ages past. To compare, millennials have no such prejudices concerning age. What lurks behind the millions of selfies, is not a self-righteous, self-adoring self-confidence but rather a tacit agreement that they lack wisdom or even the self-discipline to acquire that wisdom, and a willingness to sober self-assessment. The two politicians most successful among the younger generation – Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders – are both over 70. (I was personally present when Ron Paul had his rally at the University of California, Davis. Nothing compares to the sight of 3,000 California youth taking in every word of a 70+ year old, conservative, Christian physician from Texas.) Millennials don’t seem to need critics; they are quite self-conscious of their shortcomings and can criticize themselves quite well, and they are doing it quite well. Whether that criticism can and will lead to their correction is a different issue whatsoever.

What is more important to us here is the other criticism, the one they get from the older generation, criticism coming from the same self-righteous generation which grew up in the 60s and the 70s, which wouldn’t take any criticism from their parents back then. That criticism is important to us for several reasons:

First, because it shows a conflict between two generations, and such conflict, Biblically, is always an indicator of a covenantal problem in the society. And, getting ahead of ourselves, that covenantal problem is almost always with the older generation, not with the youngsters.

Second, because such criticism can teach us something about the Biblical principle of “take the beam out of your own eye first.”

And, third, because both the criticism and the unique historical position and characteristics of the millennial generation can give us a hint as to their purpose in the plan of God. Remember what we talked about in a previous podcast, “Principles for Voting,” and the Biblical principle of “serving the purpose of God to one’s own generation.” Knowing this principle, and trying to discern the times based on it, may help us – and the millennials – grow closer to being true men of Issachar, knowing the times and knowing what Israel should do.

Any criticism against a younger generation by its seniors is a déjà-vu for me. I am myself a member of such a generation – a worthless, screwed, useless, the worst generation of all history. Not many here in the West know about this generation – only those who were born in the late 1960s and the early 1970s in Eastern Europe. We never dressed right; even worse, we let the decadent capitalist West influence our clothes and hairstyles. We never listened to the right music: waltz and marches and classic, you know; our tastes went from the movie Hair through Deep Purple to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. To add insult to the injury, all these were smuggled in illegally. We made fun of age-old traditions and we despised solemn ceremonies like the flag or the national anthem. We didn’t like the 9 to 5 jobs in the Communist plants and we didn’t attend the meetings of the Communist Youth League. We sassed cops and did pranks on our teachers. We were violent, lazy, devoid of any good taste, cynical, and we snapped back every time someone tried to upbraid us. We were the worst, the most useless, worthless, and screwed generation Eastern Europe has ever seen. So serious was the problem with the younger generation – that is, us – that in the 1980s most Communist countries created special government committees for working with the youth, and eventually, these committees were raised to the level of government ministries (Federal departments in the US). I remember clearly one of my high school administrators – a career Party apparatchik – telling us in the mid-80s, “Your generation needs to be sent to war, to learn some manners.”

Well, he got his war, but not in the way he expected. It was our generation – the worst, the most worthless, etc. – which in 1989 was on the streets protesting and bringing down the Communist regime. No need to explain, just watch some of those videos of 1989 in Eastern Europe. (Or find the video clip for the song Wind of Change by the German rock group Scorpions.) And in the following two decades, it was our generation that had to overcome the inertia and the stupor of the older generations and rebuild the economies of Eastern Europe, learning to be entrepreneurial and future-oriented, while dealing with the remains of the Communist past. And if Eastern Europe got to where it is today, relatively peacefully, it is because of that worst and most worthless generation, which came of age – physically, but especially socially and politically – in 1989.

Had I lived longer, the déjà-vu experience would have been even stronger. Conflict and distrust between generations seem to be characteristic to most eras in history. From Homer to our own times, most generations in history have seen parents complaining and distrustful of their own children, and we have seen children distrustful and resentful of their own parents. The same complaint leveled against the millennials in our own day, or against the young generation in Eastern Europe in the 1980s, has been repeated thousands of times in other periods of history, in other places and in other cultures. So prevalent is it that it is accepted for normative by most people today; it is taken for granted, as something that is normal and should be expected by default. Conflict between generations is a given.

But is it, indeed? Where does it come from, and what causes it? The Bible describes the same conflict in Micah 7:6:

For son treats father contemptuously,
Daughter rises up against her mother,
Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.

Jesus then quotes the same words in Matt. 10:35 and Luke 12:53. Prophet Micah speaks these words as God’s judgment on His rebellious people; Jesus repeats them, and says that this is what He has come for: to create such conflict. He was speaking as God’s appointed agent of His judgment. To His Jewish listeners, this was a declaration of curse on their nation. He wasn’t bringing peace; he was bringing God’s war. And conflict of generations was one of the signs.

This concept is even more strongly expressed in Malachi where God directly declares that there is a direct relationship between His curse and the conflict of generations. In the last verse of the Old Testament, God declares:

He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

The modern patriarchal interpretations that say that this means that the fathers will exercise their role as family leaders over their sons are not supported by Biblical symbolism and etymology. The heart was the depository of faith, or trust: “if you believe in your heart,” etc. What this verse is saying, therefore, is that a blessed society is the society where there is mutual trust between generations – not more control or more power, and certainly not more distrust.

America has rich historical evidence for the relation between blessedness and generational trust, especially in its formative decades between 1750 and 1850. Reading about those years, we seldom stop to think that many of the actors on the historical scene at the time were very young men, by the standards of today. The majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were in their 20s or early 30s in 1776. Among those who fought for the new Republic, some made reputation while still being teenagers. John Paul Jones was third mate at the age of 16, first mate at 19, ship captain at 20. David Farragut, born in 1801, fought in the War of 1812 and became a ship captain at 12. And these were only the most conspicuous of all. The society at the time had scores of young men in their teens and early twenties who fought, ran businesses, and made geographical or scientific explorations.

As amazing as the spirit and the skill of these young men are, even more amazing is the level of trust they were granted by their senior in the society at the time. Benjamin Franklin, himself over 70-years-old in 1776, shows not a single sign of distrust or disrespect to his co-signers of the Declaration, some of whom were one-third of his age at the time. And he was not alone; there are no hints in the society at the time of any generational gap. If we didn’t know the real age of the participants, we could conclude from their writings and letters that they were all of approximately the same age; a 15-year-old boy commanded the same trust and respect as a 55-year-old man. Whatever the younger generation’s strengths or faults were, this trust and respect by its seniors are an amazing testimony to us today.

And it wasn’t just one generation. It was a long sequence of such generations, starting from the first centuries of Christendom. In Rome and Greece, young people were ridiculed and often exploited, economically and even sexually. (Mark, for example, Cicero’s attitude of disdain for Augustus on account of of his young age.) Fathers were expected to keep strict control over their sons and even execute them for disobedience. But Christianity changed the attitude to youth completely, making children equal to adults, and training them and trusting them as adults. Sometimes this trust went too far – as in the Children’s Crusade of the 13th century, when thousands of children were allowed by their parents to go on a crusade against the Muslims. Again, the whole undertaking was foolish, but still, the amount of trust these parents had towards their children is amazing. Such examples are prevalent in every century of Christendom; patriarchalism certainly wasn’t the norm. Everywhere, sons were leaving the home at a very early age, and trust between generations was normative. Anyone who grew up in the 60s and the 70s knows how much freedom kids had at the time to play and explore their world. Ironically, this long chain of generations that trusted each other was only broken 50 years ago with the generation that first distrusted their own parents, and now distrusts their own children.

Similar trust in children we see in the Bible. Not to take much time, I will only mention Jesse sending his youngest son David to take care of the flocks away from home. The boy had to fight bears and lions and survive, and keep his flocks intact. Again, whether it was a wise or a foolish decision, Jesse’s trust in the boy David is astounding to the modern mind. The book of Proverbs was written not to a son who stays home under his parents’ control but to a son who leaves his parents’ home and is expected to survive and thrive, spiritually and economically, in the world, on his own, in obedience to Genesis 2:24. To this we should add the example of Jesus’s parents who had trusted the boy to be on his own in the big city, to the point that they discovered his absence from the group only a few days later. And the greater society held the same respect and trust to young men, too. In Rome or Athens, a young boy left by his parents ran the high risk of being abused, or even kidnapped and sold in slavery. In Jerusalem – even the Jerusalem of the corrupt government of the Pharisees – he could command the time and attention of their finest scholars.

Trust and respect to the younger generation, therefore, is a sign of blessedness, and a sign of God’s favor on a society. Distrust, on the other hand, is a sign of God’s curse. And while it is often a temptation for the older generation to blame the younger generation for their real or imaginary faults, the reality is the sin and blame always lie with the older generation. The Luke 12:48 principle – to whom much is given, much shall be required of him – so well forgotten in our modern American culture, applies to parents and children as well: Parents carry the responsibility for any conflict of generations and any distrust.

Having said this, let’s return to our topic at hand: the millennials, and their unquestionable unique position as the worst and the most worthless generation in history. We don’t know yet, of course, if they are the worst and the most worthless – just as no one could tell for sure in 1988 whether my generation was to be the worst and the most worthless generation Eastern Europe had seen. No one knows what the future holds for this generation, and no one knows how short time we are from another historical cataclysm, in which the hidden and unseen qualities of the millennial generation will be revealed. Perhaps it won’t be a cataclysm, but a slow, painful recovery from the mess left by previous generations. We don’t know. We all know for sure that God has a unique and individual purpose for every generation, and we all know God prepares every generation – intellectually, physically, spiritually – to fulfill that purpose and meet the challenges related to it. What that purpose would be, we still can’t tell.

But we can surely tell one thing: the widespread distrust towards millennials by the older generation clearly speak – if the Bible is our standard for covenantal thinking – that there is curse on the older generation. If the older generation is the first generation in American history to wholesale despise, distrust, and dismiss their own children and grandchildren, then the threat of Malachi 4:6 has been activated, and the curse is on the older generation.

And indeed, none of the critics and the accusers of the millennial generation seems to be aware of the gigantic beam they have in their own eyes, before they start making assessments. The older generation has an enormous debt on its books, a debt that can not be easily forgotten or forgiven. It is a debt so great that it automatically annuls any and every attempt by that older generation to moralize on anyone, whether its parents or its children. I wish had the time to expound in more detail the nature of that debt, but we will only mention its main parts.

One part of this debt is the political debt. The baby-boomers and the generation X-ers sat peacefully and passively while the power grab in American history happened, and liberties were destroyed in America at unprecedented rate. The older generation waved the stars and stripes, sang about the “land of the free,” shot fireworks on Fourth of July, and yet, as the Federal government trespassed more and more boundaries, it did nothing, busy watching its ball games. Even as the police state grew and cops were given the power to arrest or kill people on the street at a mere suspicion, the older generation only “backed the blue,” instead of shooting the blue, as their forefathers did 200 years prior. Eminent domain expanded, the prison-industrial complex expanded, taxes grew, the Federal Reserve destroyed the dollar, government schools became a taxing authority, the older generation watched silently. The political environment it left to its children today is a country where the individual is more and more under the control of an all-powerful government, in all he does, thinks, and says. The complaints that the millennials are much more socialistic are hypocritical; the deep legacy of socialism in our country was promoted, encouraged, and imposed with the tacit approval of the complainers themselves.

Another part of that debt is the economic debt. It is easy to blast the millennials for their lack of skill or inability to find a permanent job, or for their lack of focus and jumping from job to job. It much harder to openly admit that the generation of their parents has lived its life subsidized by the productivity of previous generations, and borrowing against the productivity of their children. The close to $20 trillion Federal debt, plus another $5 trillion state debt, plus another $5 trillion of county and other local agencies debt, not to mention the massive $220 trillion in unfunded Social Security liabilities – all this was not created by the millennials. It was created by the same older generation which just loves to criticize them. Economically, greed is defined as a desire for increased revenue without increased productivity; the last 4 decades saw an increase in revenue that far outpaced the increased in productivity. And millennials are expected to foot the bill – to fund the retirement of their parents while getting nothing out of it. For all practical purposes, the previous generation has been way more lazy and self-indulgent. Any criticism is hypocritical.

And finally, the criminal debt. Yes, you heard me well, I said, the criminal debt. To be more precise, the mass murder that was visited upon the millennial generation. In the worst of the worst wars of the previous century, in the two most affected countries – the Soviet Union and Germany – the total death toll among the population was about 13 to 15%. That in a time of total and mass warfare, indiscriminate bombing of civilian centers, and fighting in big cities with large density of the population. In the wars of Genghis Khan, close to 18% of the population of Asia was killed. About 30% of the Jewish population of the Roman Empire died in the internecine wars between AD 65 and AD 70. But those were wars. Hold fast to your seats now. Between 1973 and 2000 – the time period when the millennial generation was born – there were 35 abortions to every 100 live births. (Just for the record, they are down to less than 20 per 100 today.) 25%, one in every four millennials was taken by his parents to the abortion mill and slaughtered on the altar of convenience. The moral importance of this atrocity can’t be overestimated; when you get on the street, to every three millennials you see, there is one who was murdered by that old generation and has never had the opportunity to live and study and work and enjoy life. In peace time. Never before has a generation lost so many of its own in peace time, to violent death. Even the Phoenicians, with their child sacrifices, didn’t murder so many of their own children. Never before has a generation been so unrelentingly persecuted and slaughtered by their own parents. All in the name of convenience. And then, we blame the millennials for wanting too much convenience.

No criticism of the millennials can be effective unless the older generation addresses this debt. Every article that criticizes youngsters while giving a free pass to the older generation should be laughed off and ignored. Any criticism should start first with repentance. That is the only way curse is lifted from a nation: repentance. And for once, the older generation must lead the way.

As for me personally, I have great expectations of the millennial generation. A generation that has been targeted so viciously for extinction by the enemy, must be a generation of strategic purpose in God’s plan for history. We just have to wait and see.

The book I will assign for reading this week is Eastern European Youth Cultures in a Global Context, a collection of essays edited by Matthias Schwartz and Heike Winkel. History seldom repeats itself – no wonder, since God is moving it forward, not repeating it – but lessons of times past can be of great use for tomorrow. And Eastern European history in the second half of the 20th century has some valuable lessons to teach.

The same Eastern Europe where my heart is, and where I want to see the Kingdom of Christ take root and expand, until it replaces the current secular humanist civilization. Which is the point of my mission work in Bulgaria, of which I have told you many times. I still need your help for a work that is a proven success. Visit BulgarianReformation.com, subscribe to our newsletter, and donate. Help me put Kingdom-building books in the hands of the people who would build. God bless you.

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