Andy Kessler's recent Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal was a misguided, one-sided take on the charitable contributions of millennials. Kessler argued, among other things, that millennial volunteer efforts are invalid and in fact contribute to the existence of complacency. He dismissed the environmental awareness of our generation and its importance in securing a sustainable future. By labeling us "Gen-G," or Generation-guilty, Kessler has missed the essence of why our generation responds to global and domestic causes. Kessler, I speak to you directly, and with the earnest desire that perhaps you may find some truth to what I am about to say:
Millennials do not undertake charitable action solely because "we have it all" and therefore feel guilty. We seek to re-imagine the possibilities and the outlets by which we can enable change and our intentions are sincere. All over the country young men and women find unique causes that are meaningful to them and look for ways to make a difference. We don't just want to give $50 to a charity. We want to know how that $50 its affecting the situation or life of the person it touches — we want to affect causes we are passionate about and witness the results. You say that "obsessing over carbon footprints and LEED certifications and free-range strawberries and charging for plastic bags will not help the world nearly as much as good old-fashioned economic growth." But how can there be economic growth if many of resources that fuel our economy are not preserved? I want to show you that our generation's interest in charity is not some ruse to cure our "guilt," but its a genuine interest to better our society.
While the execution of service and charity is changing its fundamental purpose remains the same — to better the lives of those who are less fortunate. Kessler suggests that his son's efforts at a homeless shelter contribute to "homeless folk [not] working" because "someone is feeding, clothing, and in effect, bathing them." Homeless individuals have been stripped of everything they have, and regardless of the circumstances, they are living in conditions not fit for any human. Yes, of course, some people take advantage of charitable systems, but I can assure you it is no one is content with sleeping on the street for countless days. Instead of stating your displeasure in how your son's admirable work encourages apathy, perhaps a more helpful approach could be taken. If this is your opinion, wouldn't it be helpful to seek a solution that attempts to bring the homeless off the street and puts them into paying jobs?
Therefore, I present you with a challenge: I will come up with an idea to try to bring the homeless back into the contributing work force. Then you do the same, and with this we can start a productive discussion about how to address the issue of nearly 842,000 adults and children who are homeless in a given week in the U.S.. We have different opinions, and I respect that, but what's to say we can't work to change the status quo, to make a difference, and help better those around us.