First, taking on big meaningful projects together. Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon-including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of more people built the Hoover dam and other great projects.
These projects didn’t just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.
Now it’s our turn to do great things. I know, you’re probably thinking: I don’t know how to build a dam, or get a million people involved in anything.
But let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.
Second, redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose. Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation. We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.
Third, building community across the world. In a survey asking millennials around the world what defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn’t nationality, religion or ethnicity, it was “citizen of the world”. That’s a big deal. Every generation expands the circle of people we consider “one of us”. For us, it now encompasses the entire world. We understand the great arc of human history bends towards people coming together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations — to achieve things we couldn’t on our own. We get that our greatest opportunities are now global-we can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. We get that our greatest challenges need global responses too -no country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics. Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.