Plus, many more American children are bilingual now than they were in the past. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home increased from 4.7 million to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009 --- up from 10% to 21%.
And their English skills are increasing. Among children who don't speak English at home, the percentage who spoke English "with difficulty" dropped from 41% in 1980 to 24% in 2009.
We're the future, like it or not
I'm not denying that we're facing some huge challenges. But that's an exciting jam to be in.
It's likely that a member of our generation will solve some of the questions currently keeping us up at night: Will our government ever come together in a spirit of compromise to enact laws that will help us all? How will the music industry make money despite the overwhelming number of people downloading? What is our best source of low-cost energy? How can the journalism industry position itself to create more revenue?
Someone will eventually answer those questions or create new industries that render the problems obsolete. Millennials' time to shine comes at a precipitous moment in history.
When I was wrestling with a constraining university newspaper budget, a frustrated professor told me, "If you can figure that out, you'll have saved the journalism industry."
It's time to stop letting other generations tell us who we are and find out for ourselves.