Saturday, February 04, 2012

Millennial Protesters May Hate Institutions, But Are Weak On Alternatives

David Brooks has a pretty good column starting from the viral video "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." Brooks notes, gently, that the young man who made such a strong criticism of religion, Jefferson Bethke, humbly backtracked when some theologians set him straight.

Brooks took that retreat as an example of a larger phenomenon.  I think he really has the Occupy movement in mind, though he never says that.  Brooks' summary is this:

This seems to be a moment when many people — in religion, economics and politics — are disgusted by current institutions, but then they are vague about what sorts of institutions should replace them.

I am struck by the fact that this diagnosis matches what popular demographers Neil Howe and William Strauss predicted for the Millennials - today's twentysomethings.  Howe and Strauss thought that they would be a new "silent generation," nice people, good team players, but weak on a theory of institutions.  I don't know how old Jefferson Bethke is, but his screen name is bball1989, which makes me think he is 22.

I am glad young people are finding a way to raise a critical voice.  But they do need a positive, institutional theory of what they want instead.


Anonymous said...

I suggest that they reject both the left and the right and choose liberty...

gruntled said...

If you don't have strong institutions, you don't have liberty (see Somalia).