The term “millennial” is usually uttered with exasperation or derision by members of an older generation baffled by the attitude, behavior, and perspectives of young people today. Even in the legal industry, the millennial attorneys bring with them their distinct perspective, working style, and outlook.
This gaping chasm between generations has likewise spawned millennials’ “OK Boomer” reaction to what they perceive as an older generation’s out of touch perspective on today’s world. Millennials are oftentimes seen as too brash, impatient, stubborn, and often reckless. Their ideas are out of the box, their dreams are too lofty, and their goals almost unrealistic. But is this a bad thing?
In the past decade – and in fact, this year alone – millennials have stepped into the limelight and shaken the foundations of the world as we know it. These youngsters, with their big dreams, unwavering vision, and bold attitudes have taken our world by storm to shake us out of our complacency. Tired of sitting in the sidelines, they have decided not only to demand more from their leaders but taken it upon themselves to be the change in their own communities.
Greta Thunberg has become a household name and international icon for a new generation of environmental activism. At 15, she took the cudgels to call on the Swedish parliament for a stronger action on climate change. Today, she has inspired an entire generation of youths to take a proactive role in addressing climate change – from lobbying for better legislation to making their lifestyle changes to better serve the environment.
Almost a decade earlier, Erin Schrode developed eco-education and action platforms to inspire, educate and mobilize millions of people from all over the world. The internationally renowned millennial was recognized by the White House in 2011 as “a dynamic, passionate and ambitious young woman committed to creating big change everywhere she goes.”
Closer to home, our own young have begun pushing back against poor leadership, fulfilling gaps in social services, and inciting dynamic dialogues essential in effecting change in our own local communities.
Debbie Bartolo, the founder of Likha Initiative, is a community organizer working with the community of Sitio Anahaw, Alabang, to advocate for zero waste in major cities in the country. Her efforts have created a volunteer-led initiative that not only pushed for zero-waste policies but works against waste and pollution. Through Likha Initiative’s mentorship programs and workshops, local communities in Muntinlupa are educated and motivated to take a proactive stance in cleaning up their barangays and reducing pollution.
Jaton Zulueta founded AHA! Learning Center to provide free supplementary education to public school children by offering a variety of afterschool programs, including tutoring classes for English and Math proficiency. AHA! is run by volunteers who oversee and manage exposure trips, values formation and feeding programs as well. Not only does AHA! educate young public school students but aims to improve the very homes and communities these youngsters live in by providing education programs on values formation, nutrition, health, and financial literacy to their parents as well. This groundbreaking program has helped over 2,500 students in the past 10 years and continues to serve communities in Makati and Tondo.
Shibby de Guzman, 13-year-old ninth-grader in St. Scholastica, was one of the few Filipinos who took to the streets to call an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and other aggressive policies by President Duterte. As early as 2017, she championed the rule of law and said in an impassioned speech at her school, “We are being called to make a stand against extrajudicial killings, creeping authoritarianism, and emerging dictatorship.”
These young men and women demonstrate a new brand of leadership and community inclusivity that we could all learn and benefit from. The narrative of change does not rest on politicians or persons of power alone anymore – it can and has begun from a fervent desire for change and a strong commitment to see it through.
In a world of seeming hopelessness, we can learn a thing or two from our millennials. After all, they are confident, ambitious, and achievement-oriented.
Compared to us earlier generation, millennials are more motivated by their ability to make an impact wherever they work. Indeed, they possess the kind of force we need to propel change – the fearlessness to speak out, the recklessness to push boundaries, and the audacity to envision a new landscape for the future. Like it or not, these millennials are the future. And in their hands lie the hope for a brighter one. – Rappler.com
The author, a senior partner of the ACCRALAW, is a professor of law in the Ateneo Law School. The views in this column are exclusively his. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.