Bernardo M. Villegas
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Getting to Understand the Millennials (Part 3)

          Given the profile of millennials and Generation Z arrived at through the workshops and round table discussions with select groups of young people, Dr. Antonio Torralba attempted to answer the question “How do we remove the normalcy of the ‘broken,’ the stigma of young millennials and Generation Z.”  For whatever they are worth, let me enumerate their answers for the benefit of educators and parents who want to address the continuing challenge of giving the right moral education to the youth of today.  The solutions are unabashedly based on the major principles of Christian anthropology, a concept of man and society that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ as infallibly interpreted by the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope.

         --The faith and the truth have to be packaged in a more relatable way, e.g. with the use of one-direction karaoke songs to emphasize faith, fun, and friendship.

         --Use social media as an ally or friend rather than as an enemy in spreading good doctrine and behavior.  Educators and parents have to try to be as social media literate as possible.  One is never too old to learn.

         --Come up with more innovative formats to capture the imagination of the young (e.g. Dwende theatre of Alyanna), especially in teaching or helping them to  discover  their purpose, priorities, and life direction; to distinguish  clearly right from wrong and to make better judgments; to strive for integrity and strength of character, i.e. to be courageous men and brave women; to deserve what they want; to know their self-worth and trace their path to it; and to know in practice how to be a good son, daughter, brother and sister before looking for the right man or woman to marry.

         --We all need to make everyone aware of the resources at our disposal and we all must have a platform for sharing these resources.

         --Educators must reach out to parents, helping them to discover how to raise better children (e.g. to help them go against the self-entitlement culture).

         Those participating in the workshops and round table discussions came out with concrete initiatives that will help ensure a better lifestyle for the younger millennials and Generation Z, as well as for their mentors:

         --Without preaching, to bolster their self-confidence by assuring them that they can make things happen, e.g. if they want to lose weight, they can do it.

         --Helping the young, in groups and individually, to have a game plan of life (a doable blueprint for greatness) according to their interests and their talents and limitations.

         --Highlighting the benefits of good behavior, presenting to them causes that will attract them (ISIS seems to do this effectively).

         --Utilize the art of branding and marketing, using social media as tools, having recourse to the big influencers like YouTube.

         --Talking and conversing with the youth with naturalness about social life and social issues.  In our society, there is still a strong culture of being faithful.  People, including the young, are hungry for purpose and integrity.

         --Know how to make “noise” but with substance.  Engage in rebranding towards sense of purpose.  Adopt the strategies of groups with small and big successes.  Show stories of personal conversion to principles that yielded a great deal of practical good.

         --Spread sound doctrine, encouraging the youth to read the Bible as well as documents containing Church doctrine.  These can be the bases for discussion groups guided properly by a knowledgeable adult who is able to relate doctrine to day-to-day realities, avoiding abstract ideas and generalizations.  Priests perhaps need more grounding on the realities of pedagogy of faith, given the traits of today’s “catechumens”.   As a source of strength and effectiveness, friendship is highly appreciated by the young.  They want people who will listen to them in order to understand their point of view.  They want people who can be their friend in the face of a world that offers a profusion of “truths.”

         --Among the concerned adults, different family advocacy groups must be connected to one another online and offline even if they carry out their initiatives separately.  There should be an effort to prepare the young for family life, beyond the so-called pre-Cana conferences that seem to have limited effectiveness.  Families should be engaged in social life through trips, outreach activities, get-togethers and other group activities.  Those involved in family advocacies must know what’s on about family and family life in social media and must actively post their views through the appropriate channels.

         The most important attitude to take is that of optimism.  As Dr. Torralba ended the summary of the views expressed above, paraphrasing Charles Dickens, “It is the worst of times (but) it (too) is the best of times.”  We have the words of Christ Himself: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled nor afraid; these too will pass.” Those who are active in preserving and strengthening traditional family values in Philippine society may want to get in touch with the newly established Institute for Marriage and the Family Development of the University of Asia and the Pacific with which  Dr. Torralba  is connected.  He may be contacted though his email antonio.torralba@uap.asia.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.