When I saw the pictures of Lützerath on TV in January, where people were protesting against lignite mining, I heard in the voices of the young people who were interviewed there not only a will to resist and determination. I also heard a certain anger. The kind of anger that comes from frustration. And I thought about where this anger, this frustration, comes from.
Generation Z has different life goals than we do - so what?
The protests were largely carried by Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012. Their predecessor generation, the Millennials, to which I also belong, was disparagingly referred to by some as the "snowflake" generation: At the slightest stress, they would melt away like snowflakes. On the other hand, they had a high sense of entitlement. Generation Z, on the other hand, is labeled "fun-oriented,
Quite apart from the fact that every generation after them has assumed precisely these things - I believe that young people today really do have a different idea of what they want from life than their parents did. But even that certainly doesn't distinguish them from other generations.
Think back for a moment: How much of what your parents modeled for you did you want to adopt - and how much definitely not?
And what's so wrong about Generation Z no longer having the Benz in front of the terraced house in the new development as their goal in life? They want self-determination and a job that makes sense to them, that is purpose-driven. And what's so wrong about putting quality of life above salary?
It seems to be part of the generational contract that those who are currently "at the helm," who have already accomplished something, label the next generation and don't take them seriously. And above all: not listening.
"Be quiet when adults are talking!" After all, that was basically the attitude of many when the Fridays for Future movement spoke up. "Learn something first!"
What really makes Generation Z angry
And I think that's exactly what makes Generation Z so angry. They say, "Guys, it's our future that you're dredging up here before our eyes if you don't finally rethink! And you don't even want to listen to us! You want to keep doing what you're doing, at our expense - and we're supposed to keep quiet about it?!"
It is the anger that sparkled in Greta Thunberg's eyes as she hurled her "How dare you?!" at the politicians at the UN Climate Summit.
And rightly so: If our generation, if you and I don't manage to stop man-made global warming, then Generation Z will see it live as the climate tilts - with all the catastrophic consequences (see my blog "Regionally grown watermelons? Why you shouldn't be happy about it". Generation Z may be the first to not hope that they will have it better later. They live with the thought, "If we're lucky, things will stay the way they are. If not, it will get worse."
And that's why I would like to appeal to all politicians, all entrepreneurs, all those who have it in their hands to shape the future: Bring Generation Z to the table, put yourself in their shoes, listen to them! Not only because I believe that you and I are responsible for the world we leave them, but to hear what they have to propose. I am sure that this will lead to very different solutions than the ones we would have thought of ourselves.
And we can't get enough suggestions for solutions right now!