Despite the widespread complaints about the attitudes, ethics, and attention spans of millennials, it can be easy to forget the failures of generations gone by.
Not unlike the baby boomers of yore, we millennials were raised in a world of unparalleled prosperity and opportunity. This has its blessings, to be sure, but it also brings with it new temptations to view our lives in grandiose terms, punctuated by blinking lights and marked by the vocabulary of “world change” and “social transformation.” Behold, we are the justice seekers, sent to “make the world a better place” and put society to rights.
But how does real transformation actually take place?
In an article for Providence, Walter Russell Mead offers some lessons from the boomers, noting how the next generation might learn from their fruits…or lack thereof:
Most of us [boomers] (at least of that part of the generation that was interested in public service) ended up putting our energy into anti-poverty programs, human rights NGOs, environmental organizations, and so on. All of these are much stronger now than when my generation first got involved with them. The enormous growth of the NGO sector both in the United States and abroad has been one of the hallmarks of the Boomers’ engagement with the world.
Looking back, I think we got it wrong. In our eagerness to change the world, and to embrace the tumult and challenge of our times, we overlooked the most important NGO of all: the Church of Christ.
Alas, for as important as various programs and policies may be, the church provides the spiritual and cultural lifeblood that connects the dots between the individual and society. The church coordinates the contours of man’s efforts and institutions, conducting them toward the mysterious harmony we sometimes call “flourishing.” (more…)