We’re naming this edition of The Compassion Anthology the Student Edition, but it could very easily be called the Millennial Edition, because most of the writers and artists published here are Millennials. This begs the question who, exactly, is classified as a Millennial? I’ve heard the term used in conversation, on the news, but I'm a little unclear as to where they fall on the time line. I know they come after the Gen X’ers (my generation). I know that they preferred Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, or anyone else, for that matter. Many articles have been written about their attitudes, their consumer choices, especially since they are now the largest generation, having surpassing Baby Boomers. They have been dubbed the “selfie” generation, accused of entitlement, laziness, idealism, and lacking in social etiquette. But really, who are they?
Philip Bump from The Atlantic cites researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss with the correct definition: a Millennial is an individual “born between 1982 and 2004.” And it has been proven, surprisingly, to some, that Millennials are compassionate and may very well be the most empathetic generation thus far.
E.J. Dionne, author of Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent claims Millennials are “the generation most comfortable with racial and ethnic diversity, most open on matters such as gay marriage, and most welcoming to new immigrants.” Sanjay Sood, Director of UCLA’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment, and Sports says Millennials are more opt to work for companies with a message of concern regarding social issues or the environment.
I have been teaching for nearly seven years in diverse community college classrooms, classrooms with people of color and LGBT individuals, and not once have I witnessed an instance of bullying, racism, sexism, or any type of intolerance in general from my students. The personal essays I’ve read indicate how close Millennials are to their own pain—the pain of failure, grief, disillusionment, and how they are working to transcend these. They are, by and large, a hopeful generation, despite what previous generations have bequeathed them (a lackluster economy, rising college costs, global warming, etc.).
Moreover, Millennials have an unflinching willingness to work together. This is demonstrated clearly in the image above, a large-scale reproduction of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by North Shore Community College students in Jim Chisolm’s Basic Drawing classes fall semester, 2016. To create this mural, students collaborated on color and the post-Impressionist technique of Pointillism; the project included research, preliminary sketches, and synthesizing visual concepts. Jim has been doing these mural projects in his classes for the past seven years and says they are “real life experience[s] that [he] is sure [students] will recall for many years.” You can read how these mural projects have been life changing to students here.
In this edition, we're publishing images of postcards for the Art for Aleppo Postcard Show an exhibit designed to raise awareness and funding for the people who suffered the atrocities of Aleppo. Curators Carla Goldberg (former anthology artist), Russ Ritell, and David Link will be accepting submissions until April 15, in case you’re interested in submitting. All postcards submitted will be displayed at Catalyst Gallery in New York opening night April 22. The powerful images shown here are taken from postcards created by some of the students in my Composition II, Intro to Lit class.
Also included are the themes compassion for self, as in the essay “Coming Out” by Eddie Marshall and the poem “Survivor” by Dan King; compassion as a chain reaction, as in Ishita Pandey’s “Carry Forward the Compassion”; and compassion as the night sky, a theme in both poem and postcard image by Olivia McCormack.
I welcome you to celebrate the creative power and promise of Millennials—what difficulties they have transcended, what they have learned, what they care most about, how they interpret the world, and what they wish to give. If you have any questions or comments, please do drop us a line.
Laurette Folk, Editor The Compassion Anthology