This I Believe

Nathan - Winston, Oregon
Entered on September 26, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in my generation, and my part in it.

I am part of Generation X. A generation not defined by a shining moment or historic movement, but by a single letter. X represents the unknown, a placeholder used until a more suitable permanent resident can be found. X represents the hypothetical, the mysterious, the incomprehensible. Is that what I am? Is that what my friends are? My co-workers?

I work in a long- term care facility, where the overwhelming majority of the residents are elderly. The Greatest Generation. I believe in taking care of others, providing help to those who cannot help themselves. So do most of my friends, and all my co-workers. We are all part of Generation X.

Some regard us as shallow and materialistic, allowing Madison Avenue and music videos to direct our lives. They see the piercing and the tattoos and shake their heads. They see the electronic gadgets and click their tongues. Or worse, the escalation or drug use and increase of single parent families brings condemnation and pity. We are seen as placeholders until a generation that is not so common sense challenged comes along.

I see this attitude in my somewhat older peers, and I feel true belief in my generation and what they have, and will, accomplish.

I have seen someone who was not yet old enough to vote risk their own life to assure an elderly woman was safe from fire. I have seen a single mother work 16 hour days at minimum wage changing bed linens and cleaning toilets. She does this work because she cares about someone else. I have seen a whole team of young people place their health at risk to take care of people ill with terminal disease. When a nineteen year old recovering meth addict, a pariah in most social circles, helped a paralyzed woman take a drink of water, the look on the elderly woman’s face was worth more than any amount of money or prestige. I watch this, and I realize that this is truly who we are, and my convictions grow stronger.

When I was younger I believed the opinions set forth by the press and society at large. I thought that I was part a generation that put rules before ethics and winning before honor. I believed that my generation could see what was “pretty” or “cute”, but could not see beauty. I believed this because I was led by others to believe it. Now, I know better.

I believe in my generation because I have seen what we can accomplish. We are not just X.