The Common Good

The Millennials Are Waking Up

During the 2004 election cycle, I was bombarded repeatedly with messages about how young voters had failed to be involved in the electoral process. My generation-the Millennials-was failing to live up to its potential, it seemed. This time we're starting to shake things up-and people are taking note.



Motivated by growing economic inequalities, a declining environment, excessive war, and a Third World desperately in need of attention, the Millennials are demanding change. It's no coincidence that the word has become the rallying cry of those seeking the presidency.


In the February issue of Sojourners, I discuss how the Millennials are reviving the environmental movement through creative means such as the National Campus Energy Challenge (you can follow the February 2008 contest here). At PowerShift, a youth conference confronting climate crisis, I was amazed by the energy and enthusiasm that surrounded me.


In Sunday's Washington Post, Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais cite the energy evidenced by "thousands of young people filling an arena" last week at American University, when Senator Edward M. Kennedy offered his endorsement of Barack Obama. They describe "civic-minded millenials," as coming of age. "Civic generations," they wrote, "react against the idealist generations' efforts to use politics to advance their own moral causes and focus instead on reenergizing social, political, and government institutions to solve pressing national issues." It would seem-borrowing terminology from Jim Wallis-that my generation is finally waking up. And it's high time.

Instead of using the political system to advance key moral issues, let us use those moral motivations to re-energize the system. Concern for the environment is a moral issue-let's demand of our political leaders that action be taken. If we want to reduce the number of abortions, let's fund systems that help low-income mothers and mothers unprepared to deal with unexpected pregnancy. If we want this war to stop claiming lives-and we're not just talking about U.S. soldiers here, Christ weeps for the countless Iraqi civilians, too-let's work to confront our elected officials, demanding they take concrete steps to bring us home.


It's an exciting time, a time filled with the hope of change. I'm proud to be part of a generation that's demanding it. Let's keep it up.

Cara Boekeloo is an editorial assistant for Sojourners.

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