In the Houston Chronicle, Gregory Rodriguez asked the question, “Will ‘millennial generation’ downturn their way?” Rodriguez is a Director of California Fellows with the New America Foundation. In the article, he describes the usual characteristics attributed to millennials; we are coddled, technology driven people with high expectations. The article describes two possible ways in which the recession will be handled by people of my generation: 1. Treat it as an affront to our values and our high expectations and we will become despondent and detracted or 2. this will be our World War II, Viet Nam War, in other words, the defining point in our history and we will survive and thrive in this new environment.
As the newest generation to have entered adulthood, we are experiencing something that many of our parents, and older siblings have only dealt with in a cursory fashion, if at all. Yes, there was the deflation of the 70’s, recession of the 80’s, and the Internet Bubble of the late 90’s but never has a generation of workers been saddled with so much debt with so few prospects. That being said, I am proud to say that most young people that I talk to do not hold a grudge and want to do great things. Young people may not have the same jobs and may be feeling the pressure of insurmountable debt but there still remains a feeling of hope. The energy built around this singular concept is giving us the fuel we need, the air we breathe, a whole generation that has lost its level path but with the clarity of mind and desire of heart to rise above what some might perceive as an insurmountable mountain.
What does this have to do with Freemasonry? Everything. Grand Lodges and their constituent Lodges will continue to see operating costs outpace revenues, and many Lodges will still struggle to raise new brothers. But there is hope. This new generation of men have the vision, the desire, and the high expectations to make Freemasonry better, stronger and more resilient. Freemasonry requires men that join its ranks who can move with the times, using the lessons of our past failures and promoting our multitude of successes.
Young men are joining Freemasonry as a way to network for employment, seeking protection from the chaotic world outside the Lodge door, meeting other men on the level for friendship and and good cheer, and seeking inner peace from our ritual. Freemasonry has survived as long as it has because it is built upon men coming together to watch out for each other and a desire to make themselves and others around able to survive life’s ups and downs. We are a sacred band held together by the cement of brotherhood, understanding that what we have today will not necessarily be there tomorrow but knowing that someone has your back in times of trouble.
Yes, I know that there is also arrogance in my generation and that Masons are taught to keep their passions in check but we are also taught that should also be zeal for the Fraternity. Let’s guide this zeal to make a better and stronger Fraternity.
The article ends with a rather interesting comment. Rodriguez writes:
I’m confident these upstarts will find their way. After all, if life is going to beat you down eventually, you might as well go in with high expectations and your head held high. As the going gets tough, I’d rather this new generation be arrogant than insecure.
I am now entering the workforce and I know it is going to be tough out there but I also have hope. I have hope that the economy will change, that Freemasonry will be a rock of brotherhood for me to anchor myself through life’s successes and failures, and that life will go on for me and my family. I look out at the beginning of spring, I have hope. The sun is shining and I know that it will be a beautiful day.