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The Collegian

The Collegian

Column: Putting down the “selfish generation” stereotype

The millennial generation (that’s you and me, fellow college students) has frequently been described as a selfish generation.

That’s not exactly a great reputation to have, is it? Whenever I hear people mention this, I cringe.

Personally, I do not want to be considered part of a selfish generation, and disagreeing with those who make that claim seems to be the easiest way to ignore the stereotype. But ignoring a stereotype doesn’t make it go away.

Our generation is a bit of a paradox. We desire to pursue things that have purpose and meaning, yet one of our greatest weaknesses is distracting and entertaining ourselves with movies, YouTube, Netflix (I could get lost for hours), and various other mindless activities that have no eternal value.

In my own life, boredom is my fear. And in order to avoid boredom, I have to distract myself until distracting myself becomes my downfall.

Instead of investing my time with things of value, which take effort, such as homework, studying my Bible or looking for internships, I invest my time in whatever is closest to me at that time, which is usually the remote  control or Facebook.

Obviously, I am not saying these things are wrong in and of themselves, but when I waste my time on these things instead of worthwhile things, that is when I have a problem, and believe me, I have a problem.

How do we turn our reputation around? How do we become a generation that is known for being great, rather than selfish?

Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility,” and this is where, more than anything, I believe our generation falters. If we want to leave our mark on history by doing amazing things such as exploring further in space or eliminating world hunger, then we must accept the responsibility that comes with that. And not just responsibility in a general sense, but rather a responsibility for ourselves.

These choices we make to distract ourselves from our problems and our responsibilities as humans and Christians are selfish and lead to our generation’s selfish reputation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” If we want to make our generation one that is known for being great instead of selfish, we must stop thinking about all the things we could do, and start doing them. If I want to leave an impact on this world, I cannot do it from my couch watching reruns of my favorite TV episodes.

We have to stop trying to entertain and distract ourselves with things that do not matter.

We will never be moved to action merely by thinking about something. And we will never have time for action if we resort to browsing the Internet or playing video games for countless hours in our free time.

We have amazing potential to become a great generation, but it will take time and energy. So we are faced with this final question: are we willing to take on the responsibility that comes with being a  great generation?

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Column: Putting down the “selfish generation” stereotype