Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Why Won't They Just Grow Up"

Expect Delays

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.


Tall Cedar said...

I'm sure this has affected our lodge's membership by decreasing the number of willing applicants, but perhaps this is a good thing.

We are better off without men who refuse to take charge of their lives, assume a victim complex, and believe that they are somehow more adversely affected by the economy than men in other age groups.

Plenty of men in this contrived demographic have achieved professional and personal success without being "in the spotlight", and are too busy working to make their life better to take time to gripe about the fact that the world did not hand them ideal conditions in which to mature.

Mature men accept what they have been given, plod along in life and try to make things better for their families and others.

The title of you post is perfect, but you failed to provide an answer.

burntloafer said...

I have to be blunt: My generation, whatever the label, was stupid enough to believe in the American Dream.

This generation has not been raised with that fallacy ingrained in them. No one believes that if you do a good job, the company will reward you. This generation knows that to get a better job, you need to be willing to move - several times.

Neither of these generations has a 'victim' mentality, but at least your generation has the sense to be realistic.

In that sense, good men who know that they are responsible for improving their lot will join the Craft - much like it was in the past.

Tall Cedar said...

burntloafer, you make a good point. Perhaps it is not a victim mentality, but a failure to see the proverbial writing on the wall.

Millennial Freemason said...

After reading this second, complimentary article, I received an even clearer picture.

My answer is that I have no answer.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Nick. It got me to write about something I've been thinking about for some time.