If you live in New York, you are well acquainted with the issue of homelessness. Such a complex social issue- colored with addiction, domestic violence, and mental illness. I cannot seem to shake the conviction that this is a more than merely a “social issue”. The homeless population is a community of PEOPLE. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, cousins, friends, coworkers… I wonder if we knew their stories if that would change the way we feel when they beg for money, food, and attention.
As a millennial living in America, I am automatically in a position of power. Even though I am right above the income poverty line in New York, I am very rich compared to not only global poverty, but poverty in my very own neighborhood. I also have access to multiple networks, reaching far beyond my own to the networks of my network. Thanks to social media, I have somewhat of a platform. Facebook has become the modern-day soap box of our generation. We have a voice that can reach the world within a matter of minutes. I have privilege. Though I moved here as an immigrant, I never went without any needs. I was challenged to think for myself and taught that I was intelligent, driven, and passionate enough to reach for the stars in terms of my life’s work. I have access to information. With access to the internet, the world is at my fingertips. If I wanted, I could research, read, and learn about any new topic. With the help of YouTube, I could learn virtually any new skill. We’ve always been taught that “knowledge is power.” I represent a generation that is the most educated generation in the history of the world! The fact that as a millennial I have a position of power is indisputable.
What in the world does a millennial’s position of power have to do with social issues? It is a matter of intentionally relinquishing our power, privilege, platforms, access, finances for the sake of OTHERS. Its been said that “The more you are about YOU, the more miserable you will be.” I do find it interesting that though we have the proverbial world at our fingertips, millennials are reporting the highest levels of clinical anxiety, stress, and depression— more so than any other generation at the same age! Could it be that our nickname of “the entitlement generation” (which is based on a foundation of selfishness, greed, and consumerism) has been the slow poison to our joy? What is the antidote?
I firmly believe that life is a gift, and every good thing that we have is a gift. We have been given power to EMPOWER. We’ve been given knowledge to EDUCATE. We’ve been given financial blessings to OVERFLOW to others. We’ve been given platforms to elevate not just ourselves, our achievements, our accolades, but to LEVERAGE it for the sake of the common good and flourishing of society. We’ve been given privilege, education, access, networks, and so much more. I am utterly convinced that our individual human flourishing is inextricably interwoven with the flourishing of the human collective. Obviously hoarding all these gifts to ourselves has proven to not only perpetuate social injustices around us, but internally deepen the bottomless pit of greed and dissatisfaction within ourselves.
So, what can YOU do to leverage your gift of power? Here are some tangible ways you can contribute to human flourishing through some of my favorite organizations. In light of the season of giving, let’s become the “Giving Generation”, giving more than a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ on Facebook. Challenge yourself to give more than just your money- give your time, energy, emotions, etc. Reclaim your identity… you were designed for so much more!
Provide hoodies, toiletries, and other needs for the homeless community
Fight the global injustice of human trafficking
Seek to end police violence in America
Seek to help end mass incarceration
Also, come to the Cru Christmas for a Cause party on December 15th. The party will benefit four non-profits working with the homeless population in NYC. Come learn. Come dance. Come connect. Come give.