By Amy Herdy
This message is for all you millennials out there, because you’re a unique generation of being everybody’s kids.
You took latchkey kids to a whole new level and showed us you could not only get yourself home from school but that you could nuke your own pizza without setting the house on fire. You were using online portals for your classwork while we were still trying to figure out email, and transitioned to cell phones like you’d been born with them in your hand.
It seems like just yesterday you were an awkward adolescent being asked to please put the video games away, get off the couch and go outside, and of course please clean up your room. Well, now we’re asking you to please clean up the world.
I know it’s not fair that you’re inheriting this mess, because our world is a mess — a mess of misogyny, and racism, and gender inequality, not to mention everything that threatens our waters and our land, but if you look deeply, you’ll see there’s still a lot of beauty here, too.
There’s beauty in the obvious things, like hundreds of people taking to the streets on a wet, shivery winter day to let the world know they’ve had enough and there’s gotta be change.
And there’s beauty that shows up in more subtle ways, like commercials on TV that show biracial couples; or seeing a same-sex couple holding hands as they walk down the street; or the fact that kids don’t think twice about toting around a glass water bottle instead of plastic; or the fact that more and more — but still not enough — the person in charge at the office is a woman. Today, more than ever, we need you to fight for the beauty in the world.
As millennials, you have the energy to blast through a day on no sleep and you have mad skills of multitasking and social networking. You are far more diverse and more skilled in diplomacy than the rest of us, and you recognize social injustice when you see it, because from the time you were in preschool you were taught to get along.
In short, you’re the perfect combination to save the world, including the Gen Alphas and all the generations after them. Because you know more than anyone that every child everywhere is family, and we need to fight to give them the best life possible, one where they don’t know hate and violence, where girls are confident with their dreams and their safety and their identities, and boys grow up knowing that strength means helping others, not dominating them and that it’s easy to give respect and compassion, because that’s what they’ve been shown.
We’re all in this together, and together is how we’ll stand up, speak out, do the work that counts and change this world for the better. There’s only one more thing you need to do in order to achieve that: Believe.
This is a condensed version of a speech Herdy made at the Friday Harbor Women’s March on Jan. 20.