It’s the End of the World as we know it,

It’s the End of the World as we know it,

It’s the End of the World as we know it.

And I feel fine.”


It is the end of the world as Millenials know it.  I hope. Not the end of the world … Just the one THEY know. Just like after 9/11, things will likely be different. Less convenient, but safer. In some ways, better. Change – of many kinds – is needed. I hope and pray it is realized.

Millennials, in many ways , hold the keys to our health and safety right now. Scary isn’t it?

Unlikely to become seriously ill from Corona, their behavior will dictate whether or not our society becomes overwhelmed with Corona, as Italy did, where they have had  to choose which lives to save.

Today we have a disease that a few weeks ago was a far away story,  yet each day our degrees of separation from it diminish, and the many ways it is wrecking lives (and livelihoods) is growing exponentially.  And, ee are relying on the most “self” – centered generation, with the greatest fear of missing out, to be in. Yikes!

I am not saying we are not responsible for these self-serving attitudes, either.  We have served them and enabled their super comfortable lives, and we’ve protected them from good old fashioned strife.   The outside forces of technology and material excess have overwhelmed and overshadowed our best intentions to teach them the values bestowed on us. Instead, they are ever connected to all the wrong things — pride, ego, status, likability.  And disconnected from the realities of every faith tradition. 

Buddhism says life is suffering, transcendence is found by going inward and letting your stupid flipping snapchat story go. (Or something like that.) And Christianity promises Light in a world of darkness. Not light in a world of lightness.  Life is hard.
Pico Iyer says in The Art of Stillness;

Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else. 

It is no wonder our kids are living lives of such dis-ease. By Iyer’s definition, they are living in hell. 

I have a son with peanut and nut allergies.  When he was a child that affected everything he did.  It’s a strange thing being generally healthy but on the verge of a life threatening situation because the guy next to you at a Cubs game is flicking peanut shells.   One theory on why food allergies have become so prevalent is that our bodies were designed to fight off disease, and we aren’t encountering enough germs or getting enough dirt beneath our fingernails, so some immune systems turn on normally benign substances.  Our bodies are made to fight foreign invaders. In a weird way we just might need them.

Similarly, survival is our primary instinct.  This kicks in when we are pushed into threatening situations or are needs aren’t met.  Tough encounters generate creative solutions, and grit and fortitude.  Through these experiences, we learn fundamentals-about community and hope and faith, and the satisfaction of hard work paying off.   Our young people have been deprived of the difficulties which cultivate confidence and selflessness. They need more difficulties too.

I heard Thomas Friedman talk about the fact that never in history has an individual had so much power to spread good or evil, so the thing we now need to be focusing on is embracing The Golden Rule.  Doing unto others as we have them do unto us. 

Millenials, LISTEN UP.

Do unto OTHERS as you’d have them do unto.
That is the absolute truth about this Coronavirus. 

A friend, who is in quarantine with her son today talked about this teachable moment we are at right now.  These young people are going to have to put others first. This is not something they have experience with.  We need to teach them, with kindness, and patience;

  • to sit with the uncomfortable. 
  • to stop thinking about where they are not and  instead appreciate where they are. 
  • to cultivate presence. 

This hit me over the head in a big way.  I have been frustrated, to put it lightly. I see the texts coming in on the phone on the kitchen counter  “Lets all of us get wasted tonight.” “Come to Tahoe this week!”  And then I get the guilt and pressure from my own kids. It infuriates me, on so many levels.   
I am going to practice educating with loving kindness.  And non apologetic firmness. And using less words when they start “negotiating.”   And working on my tone. And remembering they don’t know what they don’t know, and that’s on ALL of us.

It’s  time for millennials to learn sympathy and parasympathy, that’s the “rest and digest” aspect of our nervous systems.  To “Let it Be.” To cultivate calm. To sit with the simple truths– of powerlessness and discomfort.

Another friend texted, “God works in mysterious ways.”  And that you couldn’t create more of a perfect storm, or perfect opportunity for young people. 

“It’s Social Responsibility.  Simple. As. That. Pay it forward,” she wrote.   The elderly fought for YOUR freedom.  It’s time for you to return the favor by, um, watching netflix. 

Good can come of this, in unimaginable ways.

I do believe. 

Parents, youth leaders, elders, young people too, anyone in relationship with teenagers, college students and twenty year olds: please help educate on this. Please pause and consider what the right thing is NOW. Today. This may differ than your opinion yesterday. Tomorrow may too. Meditate on this. Quiet the inputs and consider the impact we each can have, for better or for worse. Teach your children well, and how to be the great citizens they want and deserve to be. And acknowledge their progress. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Here’s a start… (an article on young people on spring break in TX) (a friend’s blog to young people, sharing her perspective as a cancer patient)

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jen Pen

    Today I was supposed to be returning from visiting my elderly parents in Florida.
    Thankful they cancelled my trip.

    Trying to be part of the solution.
    Not part of the problem.

    Thanks for the well researched and beautiful post.

  2. Tracy Robb Segal

    Need this today, thank you!

    1. 40waysofpeace

      don’t miss Paige’s instagram hilarious attachment (above in comments.) sadly she passed along to me after i shared that i’d taken few steps in that direction. ( did get a donation yesterday from a reader friend which I actually hid.) upside of my family not reading this; my secret is safe 🙂

      on that vein, maybe we can put our little entrepreneurs into business:

  3. Stephanie McKinnon Keehn

    In a really weird way we SO needed this reset in our crazy ass lives, right? It’s unfortunately bringing a world of hurt along with it, but at least there’s a sliver of a silver lining in the PAUSE…and I bet even the kids will miss this time when it’s over. Hang in there, all — and thanks for this, every day, Elinor. xo

  4. Catherine Yehle

    Thanks E! Hits home especially after picking up my senior in college at airport last night:( Sad times
    But when Bradley Cooper sings your name in his song – all is better:)

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