By Mark Kurowski
You are the most Narcissistic generation in the history of the Monitoring the Future survey of high school students and the American Freshman Survey. You are least likely to be civic minded. You are the least likely to think about social problems. You are the least likely to be interested in current events. You are less likely to get a job or career to help others. You are the least likely to conserve energy. In fact, three times as many Millenials (those born between 1982 and 2000) as Boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964), said they made a personal effort to help the environment. (Source: Twenge, Jean. The Atlantic, online edition, May ‘12.)
The sample size of these surveys is nearly 10 million of you. Yes, volunteerism is up, but it is also up because it is required by high schools for graduation. What is striking is that the research is based upon surveys of what Millenials think of themselves, not what the “older generation” thinks of themselves.
I want you to know that this is not what I think of you. This past semester at Benedictine, I have seen students meet every Wednesday to learn how to sew. They learned how to sew to make dresses out of pillowcases to send them to Haiti for little girls in poverty to wear. “I wish I could have one for me!” said a staff member when she saw how pretty they were. Point: the project was a gift of high quality from members of the Millenial generation.
By the time of publication, eight of you have returned from building a house for a family living in a cardboard shanty in the Philippines. Not only that, but those eight raised over $2000 a piece to go on the trip. That is not about resume building or self centered service. Point: the project is a selfless gift of time, talent and materials to give a family a home.
As Benedictines, we are part of a worldwide community of humanity and it is our calling by God to remind the world that we are to love one another through selfless action. No matter what we think of each other (survey says!), we are individuals who have chosen to come to Benedictine University, a Catholic University in the Benedictine tradition. This means something more than our degree at the beginning of our new career. It means we are formed and shaped by a long tradition of selfless giving.
Keep on giving, Eagles, keep on giving. Let’s change the perception of what it means to be young in America.