In praise of younger generation, pastor offers encouragement

I’ve recently noticed some criticism about young adults who need extra care and protection from this big, bad world because they are being mistreated, or life is hard for them, while previous generations of similar-aged young adults were serving their country overseas on beaches and in jungles.

On social media over the past several weeks, there have been many posts similar to these: “In 1944, 18-year-olds stormed beaches. Today they need to pet puppies because a week of tests is too stressful.”

Or the following: “In 1944, 18- to 20-year-olds storm beaches, jump from planes, and charge into almost certain death. Today, 18- to 20-year-olds need a safe place on campus because words hurt.”

This criticism may apply to some 18- to 20-year-olds. But I also know a lot of great young adults who sign up to serve our country in the military.

They proudly wear the uniform, and they proudly serve. They are currently in the jungles, in the mountains, on the seas, and in the deserts. They place their lives on the line for people they don’t even know.

These are some of the 18- to 20-year-olds I know.

There are other young men and women who attend college and work hard to pursue their education, making the sacrifices in preparation for becoming educators, economists, engineers, medical professionals, social workers, writers, journalists and managers. There are others that are becoming electricians, plumbers, machinists, police officers and firefighters.

There are 18- to 20-year-olds that are learning to be linemen, office managers, landscapers, and who work the line in our factories or work on the crews that maintain our roads and bridges. These are some of the young adults that I know, and I’m proud of them.

They’ve had parents who believed in them, invested in them, and yes, from time to time pampered and spoiled them, but they are rising up, taking their place, and making their families and communities proud. Some are graduating and others have already graduated and are living and working around us.

Is life hard for them? Certainly.

It was hard for me in 1973 when I was 18 and attempting to figure out this thing called life. I made it, and you made it, and most of our young adults also will make it.

Are there some 18- to 20-year-olds who are lazy or worthless or who need a safe place because words hurt? Sure — and some of the same kind of people lived in 1944, too.

Just ask the men and women from previous generations who are still alive if they knew any like that. Some individuals have been raised to be dependent or to need extra emotional support; they exist in every generation.

Are there more today than before? Maybe, but the majority of our young adults have the same capacity to rise to the challenges of tomorrow and to show themselves as strong and able as those who fought in Europe, Korea, Vietnam or on other foreign shores.

This isn’t so much a religious article, but just a pastor venting a little. Instead of lifting up on social media some of the absurd things that a minority of young adults need or expect, let’s lift up the ones who are working hard, serving well, making their parents and communities proud. Let’s lift up the young man or woman who receives the Purple Heart or the ones who have served our country for four years and didn’t win any medals, but they served proudly and faithfully.

Let’s lift up the college graduate with a degree in chemistry who is going on to medical school. Let’s lift up the apprentices and the entry-level employees who are finding out how difficult it is to get started in a career but are choosing to pay the price and show up every day with a good attitude and a desire to advance. If you know anyone like this, will you join me in affirming them?

Young adults, I am one individual who is proud to watch you grow. Keep up the good work, and if you are graduating from high school, college or a trade school — congratulations.

Rick Glowacki is lead pastor of Columbus First Assembly. He can be reached at pastorrick@columbusfirstassembly.org.