Why I don’t want to be the generation of acceptance…

I am a proud member of my generation. A generation named the Millennials, we are characterized by more confidence, education, and acceptance than those who came before us. Sounds perfect. Sounds as if we would be intelligent, open-mided, active citizens, working to make our world a better place. But not all that glitters is gold, and we know that is far from the truth. We millennials have some major downfalls which are creating massive problems in our world. Our so-called confidence and our belief that everyone should be accepted has lead us to possess an enlarged sense of entitlement and strong narcissistic attitudes that we never quite grew out of. It’s an unfortunate cycle, as we strive to accept everyone, but also feel entitled enough to think we are the only ones who know best, leaving us close minded to any idea that might differ from ours, and therefore not accepting anyone who disagrees with us. Meanwhile, we strive to avoid confrontation altogether out of fear of not being accepted ourselves in a generation where the group often supercedes the individual. These are dangerous traits, especially in this fast-paced, constantly-changing world that is in need of our leadership. So, I thought I might point out the hypocrisy our generation is so full of, since a majority of us are too full of ourselves or too accepting to see it and admit that we might be at fault.

If we look throughout history, the word acceptance doesn’t usually lead to positive change. The modern world has created a new positive connotation for the word acceptance. I mean, what if the women of America had simply accepted that they weren’t allowed to vote? Or if we had continued accept segregation? Or what if I walked into a store and was charged twice the price of an item and someone told me I had to just accept it because it’s the way things are? And I want to be liked by the group of people who are ok with the new prices, so I don’t say anything. Well, this sort of thing is happening on a daily basis. We are learning to accept things around us even if we disagree with them just because we want to avoid confrontation and look good in the eyes of a group.

And we are supposedly the educated generation. Well, we might have the highest college graduation rate, but does a degree really mark your intelligence? In my opinion, true intelligence lies beyond the pages of a book or how well you pass a test. These things are important, yes, but a truly intelligent person has the decency to admit they are wrong, can listen open-mindedly to someone who might have a different opinion than theirs, and, if they cannot be persuaded, can agree to disagree and respect that other person’s educated opinion. However, this is uncommon in us millennials who, due to our own confidence, believe that we are the only ones capable of proper judgement, and therefore don’t trust others enough to value their opinion. But let me make something clear: just because I disagree with you, does not mean I am ignorant. I might have an educated reason that I hold a belief different than most other people. Just because I won’t give up on what I believe in does not mean I am close-minded person (also, I don’t know when conservative became such an insult).

I suppose that my point is that this thing we call “acceptance” should go all ways. In my opinion, it’s somewhat synonymous with respect. For example, I’m Catholic, which causes many people to automatically assume I’m against gay rights and abortion and that I’m very conservative. These are not all true, but it is, in a way, it’s own from of discrimination. People are quick to make me an outlier because I am ” not accepting.”  But aren’t the people judging me for my “non acceptance,” which is, in fact, a stereotypical label of their own invention, just as guilty of the same crime they are accusing me of? A gay man who calls a catholic man homophobic is just as prejudiced and stereotypical as any catholic man who might have the nerve to call a gay man a sinner.  This double standard occurs today because “acceptance” has a specific definition to this generation’s culture, which means accepting only certain minorities. I do believe that it is extremely important to accept minorities; however, what about people with different opinions? In my mind, acceptance means realizing that people are different and everyone has different opinions, not grouping us all into a singular mold and accepting those who fit the mold and teaching those that disagree that they are somehow their own minority. We have to remember that our differences aren’t a bad thing to voice. In fact, by not voicing our differences in a respectful and peaceful manner, they can grow inside of us until we ultimately explode.

Which brings me to this sense of confidence that our generation supposedly has. To be honest, I don’t see confidence, I see entitlement. We are confident when it comes to standing up to our elders, or anyone we might see as below us or unworthy of opinion. (which is horrible, because who are we to decide whose opinions hold value and whose don’t?). But, when it comes to standing up to each other, we are not even close to confident. Peer pressure is more alive in this generation than ever before, perpetuated by our addiction to social media. I mean, our lack of confidence runs as deep as the oldest text book example. You want to party and drink? I have to accept that because this is the accepting generation. But are you going to accept me for my decision to stay home and read a book instead of going to that party? Nope. I will be called a prude or a nerd or worse, even though I am the one making an intelligent, safe decision. I see closed-mindedness everywhere in this so-called open minded generation. If we were really so confident, we would stand up and speak up, not sit on our butts, going along with what society tells us is right. We are all talk, tweeting and sharing our opinions online, only to back down or delete it when we are confronted about it or questioned.

It’s time to stop backing down, millennials. Not every mistake can be deleted as easily as your online profile.

Honestly, I think we are working towards the wrong thing. I don’t want to be a part of the “accepting” generation anymore, because we are accepting things that are not ok. Contrary to popular belief, acceptance has a limit. Acceptance can become synonymous with laziness. We have allowed acceptance to corrupt our sense of morality. How far are we supposed to let it go? Are we supposed to let everyone drink and smoke all day long because we have to “accept them for who they are”? Pretty soon, we will be accepting things that so aren’t okay just because we are afraid of being called ignorant or closed minded. Oh wait, we are already doing that. And, in fact, most of the population is closed minded to anyone with a different opinion than their own.

Accepting someone for who they are or what they believe, doesn’t mean that we agree with them and it doesn’t mean you have to compromise your own beliefs.

Speak up, millennials.

So do I want to be a part of the “accepting” generation? No. I don’t want to be accepting if that means I have to learn to accept things I’m not ok with and not speak up just so I am not labeled as an overly conservative person. I don’t want to be a part of the hypocritical generation that claims to have confidence, but doesn’t speak their mind. I don’t want to be a part of a culture of acceptance if this is what it means.

So, I will say it again: don’t back down, millennials.

If we want to become the truly the confident, accepting, educated, generation that we have the power to be, we have to learn to work together and put aside our selfishness. We have to turn our group narcissism into empathy. If we have to think selfishly, we should put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and if we wouldn’t want it to happen to us, we work to prevent it. We have to learn to “accept” that people are going to disagree. But if we want to make a difference, we have to learn to compromise, to find common ground, to listen to those around us, one issue at a time. It’s time that we start putting our educated, entitled qualities to good use, accepting love in all forms and stopping ignorance and pride from running our society.

It’s time to work together, millennials. Let’s work together towards a society where if you believe something, you can stand up for it, and your educated, open-minded peers will admire you and accept you for it, whether or not they agree.

So, for all of these reasons, I’m done working towards this modern day idea of “acceptance.” I don’t want to be a part of the generation of acceptance and double standards. I want to be a part of the generation of equality, education, confidence, and positive change. That will only come if we learn to accept our differences and peacefully, intelligently speak up for what we know is right. So listen when someone presents an opposite opinion, speak your own without fear, and love everyone around you. That’s how we gain the “acceptance” we are searching for. But it’s not acceptance, it’s equality.

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