GenMe is often derided (particularly by the 60’s generation) for its apathy and non-activist spirit. While this is certainly a valid observation, it is only a characterization and not a sufficient diagnosis. Cynical is the better diagnosis for GenMe’s apathy in the public square. This cynicism is born out of a deep-seated pessimism that “there is no point in trying.” This is Dr. Twenge’s conclusion in chapter 5 of Generation Me. She notes, “We’ve…managed to absorb the cynicism which once came with age.”
How has this happened? She points to several factors including:
There is a fatalistic spirit in GenMe. Increasingly, college students believe that their lives are out of their control and that factors outside their own efforts are determinative of success in life. Success, it is believed, results from who you know, being in the right place at the right time, and just blind luck.
Self-esteem versus Reality – “If we see ourselves as independent individuals, why are we increasingly blaming others when things go wrong?” I cannot admit to personal failure because that would damage my self-esteem. Add to that a victim mentality where “Parents have always done [everything] for them, including choosing all their teachers in the public school system and arguing about every grade they receive . . . As a society, we’ve created a new generation of young adults who blame everyone else for their failures.”
“Jesus loves me” will only move you to the degree you understand how much he shouldn’t. The cross tells us that we are so flawed that Jesus had to die for us but that we are so loved that he was glad to do it. In Christ, you are completely and utterly approved by God. Therefore, there’s no need to be cynical because you don’t need a defining existential event to give significance to life . . . you don’t have to DO something great or be someone great. He delights in displaying his wondrous power by working through weak, flawed human beings . . . a qualification none of us has difficulty attaining. He rewards faithfulness not flawlessness, so we can move out into the world in a confidence that the results are in the hands of a loving, personal Father . . . not impersonal ‘fate’. Sola Dei Gloria!