FacebookTwitterRedditEmail On Values – Exploring the character of institutions Lately, I’ve been spending time imagining possibilities of how our present social, political, economic, and environmental
Let it Go Millennial (and Gen Z too)
Today our world exists in a state of global unrest. Perpetual wars, wealth inequality enabled by political corruption, and the climate crisis on the horizon makes it hard to imagine how we change our direction. Lately, the concept that things could always be worse feels more like a prophecy than a reminder to appreciate the good.
It’s almost as if the universe is playing a cruel joke on us. The pace of our technological advancements is quickly catapulting us to an era where scarcity as we understand it can be ended. But instead of coming together in a global revolution of consciousness, spirit, in political action to accelerate these advancements, we’re becoming more divided.
Why is that? Why can’t the generation of boomers leading global draw the same conclusion that many in our generation already have? That a worldwide structure based on resource competition is an inadequate system for shared prosperity. We know this because despite the progress it’s helped create, we’re still on the verge of a global climate crisis. One that will ruin economies, reshape food supplies, and lead to mass migration and war.
The Millennial and Gen Z generations couldn’t participate in driving planetary decisions, which is why it’s easy to get angry at the Boomer generations. But there’s a more significant theme at play here that we should be thinking about because we’re not immune to its impact. If you share the growing desire for a transformative future, than we need to be aware of these pitfalls to avoid them ourselves.
Our everyday interactions with each other subconsciously reinforce a way of thinking and acting. Every moment we share with another person, digitally or in person, is an exchange. We’re always giving and receiving both consciously and subconsciously.
All of these exchanges happen within frameworks. Frameworks dictate what are and are not acceptable actions in our transactions. One example but be the laws defining property and contract the United States, the primary definer of wealth. Others might be the laws dictating how we fund education or healthcare.
Every human that has ever lived has been a slave to the frameworks of the time and space they occupy, there’s no escaping it. Our very being represents an evolution of thought within our species. Every generation becoming a more expansive form of humanity than the ones before it. Every framework that exists today, and everyone that we may invent in the future will always reinforce a particular way of living upon us. Each contains the ideals and vision of a specific people dealing with certain problems in a limited moment in time.
The problem today is that it’s the frameworks themselves that are the source of our struggle, they perpetuate the system driving us to ruin. Statistically speaking, Boomers extract the most benefit from this system. Millennials and Gen Z suffer from it, despite having no voice in its creation or continuation.
Here’s where we identify the primary conflict in our struggle and the central theme of this argument. Today we are experiencing the greatest generational conflict ever in the history of humanity. These divisions are the direct result of the exponential growth of technology and how it has impacted the Millennial and Gen Z generations in comparison to those before us.
With the crisis drawing nearer every day, we have to ask ourselves, how do we break free from the frameworks that dominate our experience? The answer is to let go. The ultimate truth of the universe is that change changes. No institution is sacred, no way of being deserves to live after its usefulness has ended.
All of our social systems are the inventions of time and culture whose values and interests do not represent our generations. That’s why the Millennial and Gen Z generation must adopt a new way of thinking about change moving forward. That begins with recognizing that we need to reimagine the organization of our national and global order. Letting go is the acceptance that before we can be better, we have to ditch the bad.
Imagine it another way. All of our laws and institutions are vehicles. They are tools to reach desired destinations. Every single policy put forth, tax increase or cut, and other investments are methods of moving our vehicle in a specific direction. There is no neutral action, every choice is a step towards a broader vision.
Anyone who’s ever owned a cheap starter car as a teenager knows that after a certain point in time, you stop fixing the vehicle, and you buy a new one. That’s because you reach a point of diminishing returns trying to fix a dying car. Investing more in the car isn’t producing better results, it’s just delaying the inevitable replacement.
Beyond politics is a deeper, more spiritual aspect of our struggle. We want to be freer to live a life where our present options aren’t limited by past structures. Freedom demands that we can transcend our circumstances. We need the ability to change the direction of our lives without structural resistance. Exploring how we do this begins with understanding how our current moment limits us from becoming who we are.
Struggling with Now
What’s holding us back? Today we live in a society where our personal security is tied directly to our particular profession. We want to become more and expand ourselves by pursuing passions, ideas, and creativity but are forced to conform to a form of work that diminishes us.
We imagine a world where the individual’s life chances are not determined by birth lottery. We’re speaking globally, not just locally here in the United States. The frameworks that dictate our interpersonal exchanges deny us the equality of respect and opportunity that every human has a right to. Today the cultures and institutions of the past support a survivalist mentality hammered into us throughout our evolutionary history.
Millennials and Gen Z understand that every human being is just a different extension of ourselves, a sacred infinity made flesh. Struggling with the present is a conflict between our understanding of who we are and the limitations our frameworks put onto who can become. It depresses us, makes us anxious and fearful, and ultimately it turns us to believe in false idols who promise salvation but bring only ruin and misery.
One of our biggest problems is that we don’t understand how to go from here to where we want to be. Even worse, we don’t know where we want to be. Here I can offer only encouragement, don’t let our lack of direction stress you out, this is the ordinary course of human history. Almost all of our leaps of consciousness and culture came after periods of darkness. The good news is that today it’s within our power to make these leaps without crisis.
Millennials and Gen Z are children of the internet. Generations of people who felt the impact of our technology ascendancy much more than any other age living today. We understand how the connectivity provided by the internet impacts childhood experiences and perceptions, something that the Boomer and Gen X generation never can share as lived experience.
Technology has shown us the power of connectivity and collaboration. It’s also provided us with a form of expression that ignored the corporate propaganda fed to our parents through mainstream media channels. Most importantly, it’s allowed us to develop a philosophy of life beyond what we were taught. A worldview that understands that our real power is in collaboration, not competition.
Still, we aren’t free from the burdens our frameworks have placed upon us. The way we think about ourselves, others, and the world is the sum of the cumulative experiences that we have been a part of. Well before we could judge for ourselves, we were filled with information about the way things are, deeply imprinting worldviews that we now struggle to resist. Many within the Millennial and Gen Z generations have already fallen prey to the dogmatic worship of a particular way of life and being. Old conflicts that were manufactured to divide an aging population bleeding their way into our existence.
This idea isn’t an attack on any one subgroup or belief. It’s a continuation of the progression of all of humanity. Our parents were subject to the same type of indoctrination, as were their parents before them. The primary difference today is that there is enough knowledge and connective power for us to come together and understand that the frameworks are the problem. If we do not let go of those first, we have no hope of creating something better.
It should be noted that Millennials and Gen Z aren’t homogenous groups. Some of us are benefitting very much from the current arrangements, and we may be tempted to defend them. The idea that I have mine and that’s all that matters. Or that my work ethic is the primary determining factor in my success is short-sighted and narrow-minded. It also ignores the reality of the crisis on our doorstep.
At the heart of imagining something new is letting go of the old ideas surrounding innovation and advancement within society. It’s no exaggeration to say that technology brings us closer to realizing an entirely new way of being every day. It benefits all humanity to accelerate the pace of progress and innovation.
Technology companies today benefit from laws defining property and contracts that were created during a time where our current pace of change was unimaginable. The result is that the vast majority of potential innovators do not have access to our most advanced technologies to build upon. Instead, a handful of monopolies control them.
You don’t have to be an economist to understand how dramatically the American economy has changed over the past two decades. Innovation and creative works are the most significant sources of revenue generation and social advancement. Knowing that these trends are real, it makes sense to argue for encouraging and empowering our creative thinkers and doers.
Today a handful of companies have the ability and capital to consistently innovate and protect those innovations from others, even if they have no intent to use them. In the book The Knowledge Economy, Roberto Mangabeira Unger explains how we cannot create an innovation economy without freeing up technological access. Almost every industry has a few really advanced companies that have the resources to continually create and innovate. The rest are stuck working on problems that may already be solved.
Opening up access to the most advanced technologies isn’t a new idea. During the Industrial Revolution, anyone with the means to invest in production was given access to the most sophisticated machinery and techniques.
What Millennials and Gen Z have to let go of is the idea that inventions or discoveries belong to any one person. We replace this concept with the new understanding that technology is a collective means of progress. No one person or company has a right to limit others from exploring and expanding upon it. The alternative is just wasting the time and potential of our people so that a small minority can profit more.
Technology is and always has been the driving factor in the evolution of human consciousness. In an era of unparalleled growth, it is the most logical course of action to radically rethink how we distribute access to our most advanced forms of production.
Let go of the idea that any one person or group has the right to determine the destiny of our technological future. We can still reward excellence while agreeing that individual wealth and power do not take priority over our collective well being.
All political struggle is a struggle of spirit. Politics is the way that we structure the frameworks and laws that govern our daily activity, and more importantly, our ways of interacting with each other. It is the basis for our interactions at all levels, and today, it happens to be one of the most dysfunctional systems in our society.
We must let go of the idea that the U.S. Constitution, a 244-year-old document, is some sort of divine mandate by which we should guide our actions. Recognize it for what it is, a brilliant social technology that needs a complete rework. We take what we now know to be the best aspects, eliminate the negatives, and create new frameworks to further expand our humanity and universal rights.
The consciousness of people in 1776 was radically different than ours today. Worshipping any creation of the past as a final destination is incredibly short-sighted and a willing limitation of our collective power to be more than we presently are. Founder Thomas Jefferson understood this and supported the revising of the document every 19 years .
Millennials and Gen Z must let go of the idea that we have the luxury of ignoring politics. If you were raised in a blue-collar family, you probably grew up hearing how all politicians are corrupt, and no one knows what they’re doing. While the statement contains truth, it is a subconscious avoidance of the responsibility we bear to become involved in governance at the local, state, and national levels.
We have to let go of the idea that political donations from some sources, like unions, is better than others, like corporations. All organizational money in politics corrupts the process. The Citizens United ruling opened a Pandora’s box for the funding of our elections, and the only thing that can stop it now is a constitutional amendment.
If our generations take a hard stand on not voting for any candidate accepting corporate or special interest money, we would radically change the political landscape of the United States in a decade. We will never achieve publicly funded elections, publicly owned campaign platforms, and an end of corporate control when we continue to elect purchased representatives.
Keep in mind that neutrality is a false ideal. There is no such thing as a neutral action in this universe. Every choice, even the decision to do nothing, moves us towards a specific direction. The choice to not participate in our democracy is a choice to support the existing oligarchy rule. Let go of the idea that we have no alternative options, we do if we’re willing to act.
Letting go of our apathy isn’t a big ask. You don’t have to run for office or even be involved. You do have to know your candidate options in every race. Vote and encourage others to vote for change-making candidates. Ignore race, religion, gender, and age. Focus on the issues.
Today both political parties rely on the majority of people just voting for their “team” without understanding what they really represent. Both place the interests of wealthy donors ahead of the well being of the people they serve. Our ignorance allows ill-intentioned actors to reign for too long.
Let go of the illusion that things are going to be okay, or that we’re somehow isolated from the impending fallout that lies ahead. The price of a healthy society is participation. The reward is the opportunity to define our experiences. If we refuse to let go of old habits, we choose to hold on to oppressive rule.
Let go of the economic narratives you were taught growing up. The future might have been about getting a secure job at that community mine, energy plant, or manufacturing facility. Or it may have been about finding a career, building a business, and focusing on wealth. Whatever it was, understand that it’s unlikely to be relevant over the next decade.
Millennials and our parents bore the brunt of the economic collapse of the 2000s. After following the pathways preached since primary schooling, we found ourselves awash in student debt with no opportunities. Our mothers and fathers lost employment and found themselves without many options in their mid-50s.
In a government of elected representation, we would expect policies to uplift the average person during this period of strife. Over the past twenty years, we bailed out multinational banks, spent over $4,980,000,000,000 on wars that we entered under false pretenses, and slashed tax rates for corporations and the wealthy. Let go of the idea that the majority of our present-day political leadership cares about the average American.
Let go of all of the measurements we’re given to define economic success. According to Gallup , only 55% of Americans report owning stocks in April 2019. Stock market performance is an inadequate measure of prosperity. The same can be said for the gross domestic product (GDP). This isn’t even a unique idea. New Zealand has already shifted its national success measurements to a more broad well-being agenda.
Economic activity has always been a priority for capital holders. Today our economic frameworks are why we live in a boom/bust economy, why economic inequality is the worst its been since the 1920s Gilded Age, and why we allow fossil fuel companies to actively spread disinformation about the climate crisis.
Let go of the idea that it’s all capitalism’s fault. Our problem is not capitalism, it is the dogmatic worship of our singular form of capitalism. If we are unwilling to create separate types of markets for different industry verticals, we will never realize economic justice. That means democratically choosing to socialize specific industries while keeping others private.
To the growing progressive movement, let go of the idea that replacing one -ism with another -ism is going to solve our problems. Now is not the time to look to history for a solution. Today we have the opportunity to radically reimagine our systems of exchange. Utilizing technology to genuinely democratize our market economy and create scaled efficiencies beyond anything previously imagined.
Spirituality and Religion
Millennials and Gen Z must let go of the notion that our spirituality has anything to do with organized religion. Spirituality is the quest for understanding and connection with our higher selves. Religion is the organization of spirituality into political, economic, and military engines. Spirituality has helped us redefine ourselves since the nomadic era of our species. Religion has been the source of countless terrors both in past and present times.
All language is a form of soulcraft. Humans are context-driven beings, our evolutionary success is predicated on our ability to control and understand spoken words. Letting go of the power of religion over our spirituality may require that we redefine or abandon aspects of our vocabulary.
Take the word “soul” as an example. For many worshipers today, the word soul ties us to a being of dramatic power. It’s a form of judgment, one that has consequences well beyond our brief time in this form. One that was used to guide an ancient people who existed in a universe of consciousness utterly foreign to modern-day.
Today we might define the soul as the central point in our universe. The defining characteristic that makes all of us the center of everything, all experience extending outward from our personal perspectives. We know that our consciousness can be shaped, molded, and directed by the inputs that we receive. So why not take an active approach to develop it?
Religion can be a very personal subject, but we have to let go of the idea that criticism, questions, and curiosity of existing orders of spirituality is any way unacceptable. All religions are systems of being. A documented way of life that, if you mimic, promises eternal peace. Millennials and Gen Z must let go of the idea that spiritual peace is reserved for an experience after death. Transcendence is an active process tied directly to the structure of the institutions that we surround ourselves with.
This leads our generations to a more profound question. If we require deities to guide us, can those gods evolve? Are we strong enough to recognize that for many of us, our religious beliefs were inherited and indoctrinated? The concept is less far fetched then may seem on the surface. No organized religion is eternal. All were created.
We went from worshipping nature to worshipping the sun kings, many gods, one god, and several other alternatives. Are we bold enough to recognize that another revision may be in order?
One of my biggest qualms with the two most popular monotheistic religions is the separation of divinity from man. Christ’s ascension to the heavens is, in many ways, removal of our true power. Almost any devout Christian will tell you that man can never have pure grace, but we work towards it anyway.
Contrast those ideals to Hinduism or Taoism, where the idea of divinity is within every human being. We are it. Different manifestations of the whole universe, each occupying a unique point in time and space. To put it in a more scientific perspective, all of us are just a continuation of the same big bang. Extending further outward but all originating from the same point. We were one, and we are one.
Today requires us to embrace the now. To recognize that our ultimate reality is now and forever will be this moment. Connecting our spiritual fulfillment with the way we structure social frameworks will be a significant leap towards transcendence.
Similar to the argument for letting go of political history, our desire to be more isn’t a diminishment of what was. It’s a method to become what we will be.
Democracy is a spiritual philosophy masked as a political arrangement. It has nothing to do with the Republican or Democratic parties, it has everything to do with our ability to have a voice in the direction of our individual and shared destinies. That is spiritual freedom.
Dr. Cornel West best summarizes the argument for letting go in his lectures when he talks about how learning how to love is akin to learning how to die. We cannot become more than we are if we are unwilling to let go of what we have been. Deep inside of many of us, there is the gnawing desire to transcend: to free yourself from the artificial constraints imposed on your existence by society. For much of our past, it was simply not an option. Today it is within our grasp.
Our generations, like a few generations before us, have decisions to make now that will determine the future of humanity. We must embrace physical, spiritual, and psychic death as part of our rebirth into something more. Recognizing the latent power within us, we can change the course of our destiny—wrestling it from the hands of the generations before us. Understanding that every step forward requires leaving something behind.
 I’m an evangelist and a Trump voter. But Trump as the ‘second coming of God’ is blasphemous. By Jay Lowder Washington Post August 2019https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/08/22/im-an-evangelist-trump-voter-trump-second-coming-god-is-blasphemous/
 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Julian P. Boyd et al. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950 http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch2s23.html
 What Percentage of Americans Owns Stock? by Lydia Saad Gallup Sept. 2019 https://news.gallup.com/poll/266807/percentage-americans-owns-stock.aspx
 List of Religious Populations Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations