The Atlantic Monthly had a very interesting feature today about the Millennial generation, in particular, how the recession has affected us and our push into adulthood. In "Adulthood, Delayed: What Has the Recession Done to Millennials?", Derek Thompson delves into many issues revolving around Millennials not "growing up."
What makes Generation Y different from all other generations? They're getting married later. They're having babies later. They're buying fewer homes, and living with their parents. Are they scared of adulthood? Maybe. Culture is complicated, and there are plenty of factors outside of the Great Recession that are shaping Millennials' conception of adulthood and family life. But it certainly seems like the story begins with economics.
I wondered, as I read this article, how this will affect a man in his twenties and his view of the Craft. My supposition is that if Millennials are willing to put off families, homes, and other guide posts of adulthood, they will put off joining Freemasonry as well.
This is going to be a challenge for lodges. How will we attract but more importantly, impact the lives of young adult men? What will Freemasonry provide and what impact will my generation have on Freemasonry?
I remember a talk given by WBro. Robert Davis of Oklahoma at the Philalethes Society Annual Feast and Symposium in Minneapolis in 2010. He discussed generational differences and Masonry's relationship to them. I took away from that presentation this point on Millennials, which I completely agree with, Generation Y is an extremely social group that craves knowledge. With this change in economic possibilities, we may be seeing a new need arising.
This extreme downturn has had a major effect on young men. They are lacking support in making that next step in manhood. That is what Freemasonry could provide. We offer growth, a chance to better our selves and others, and to find meaning.
Sorry if I'm sounding like Robert Bly. But in this new economic reality, I, like many men my age, feel that meaning has been lost. It's not so much a loss of innocence as much as a loss of context. Our actions seem to mean nothing. We are in Limbo, waiting to see if our collective sins have been redeemed. There are many places we can turn, some good, some bad. How our lodges perform their labors will be the key to it being necessary for the spirtual growth of our newest Masons..
I have a beautiful wife, a crazy fun son, and a house. (it's not big but it has four walls, so technically, it qualifies.) I'm not like this but I was. My wife and I took years to get married and have just now started having kids. It took us awhile to get a house. We are delayed. Yet, through it all, we've made it. My adult life seems to have finally started after many sputters and starts. I can thank my family, friends, and Freemasonry for these things.
It's been a rough few years. I've seen friends wait in the wings for their time in the spotlight. We've been watching and waiting. Yet, for me, Freemasonry is a key to unlock my potential, particularly in these dark days. It's a place to focus on making my ashlar smooth. I owe a lot to the Fraternity. It isn't the only place that I've found context but it does provide one landmark in my life.
What do you think of delayed adulthood? How has it impacted your lodge? Please leave a comment.
Justa Mason at the Just a Mason blog has made a great response, or should I say, a conclusion to this post. Go check it out now.