by Daniel Koustoufis (b. 1982)
We live in a complex time. There’s no argument that can be made to the contrary. Our nation is at war on two fronts. We are in the midst of one of the greatest political about-faces of the last hundred years. Technology is advancing faster than most people can keep up with. The economy is hovering somewhere between recession and depression. The unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in nearly twenty years. As Generation Y, we had a front row seat on the day the world changed.
Like generations before us, we have our moment of, “Where were you when.” Our “when,” of course was September 11, 2001. The Baby Boomers had the day that Kennedy was shot. The Greatest Generation had the day when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Each of these events changed their respective generation’s world forever. Gen-Y’s world will never return to the idyllic and booming time that was the end of the Clinton years.
As a generation, we should be flattered to know that many of previous generations think highly of our generation. Historians Neil Howe and William Strauss thought that Millennials could be the next great generation as far back as 2000. In 2008, Generation Y began to live up to that hypothesis and changed the political landscape. Largely because of our political activism, Barack Obama is sitting in the Oval Office.
As a generation, however, we should seek to take examples on how past generations struggled through their great problems. In the Great Depression, the Greatest Generation, largely children at the time, recall memories of meager suppertimes, and their fathers waiting in long lines for bread or for work as a day laborer. Nearly every member of the Greatest Generation can tell us a story of how difficult life was in the 1930’s. To me, these stories are inspirational. The story teller tells us of perseverance and simplicity.
Simplicity can be a foreign concept to anyone living in Generation Y. In order to make it through the tough times, one must realize that it’s the simple things in life that really matter: food, shelter, clothing, family. Some of the greatest joys of my life are simple. I love sitting down to a pancake breakfast with my wife and kids on a Saturday morning. I love taking the kids for a walk to the park, and to just sit and listen to their squeals of joy. I love listening to the Red Sox on the radio. I love sitting on my couch in the evening, looking across the room, and just admiring my beautiful, strong, independent wife.
Let’s simplify our lives. Let’s cook at home. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s let our kids play outside and be kids. Let’s pull through this most terrible economic slump and prove to the world that we are the next great generation.
Daniel Koustoufis is a firefighter in Massachusetts. He is also a father, a husband, an active church member, and a deep thinker.