Don't be misled: Though we may go to church only on Christmas or celebrate Ramadan but skip the fasting, we are busily and earnestly engaged in reimagining the ethical life.
Life-guiding beliefs and the behavior that grows out of them, contrary to some doomsday lamentation, are not dying. In fact, Millennials volunteer at higher rates than any generation in history.
In poll after poll, they express a deep desire to make the world a more just place. The notion of service – once defined by established charities, Sunday schools, and academic credit – is beginning to grow up and move outside institutional walls. It is being infused with a sort of rogue authenticity and independence.
J.K. Rowling superfans empower one another to apply themes from her books to real life – donating money, fighting bullying, and the like – through the Harry Potter Alliance. Young urbanites with small earnings pack rowdy source-funding dinners for artistic projects and call them FEAST. Business school graduates pioneer business models whereby one trendy pair of eyeglasses can buy someone both the cache of cool and a surge of altruistic serotonin: For every pair of glasses purchased from Warby Parker, the company invests in small vision businesses abroad.
Our moral imaginations, it seems, are being formed on new frontiers – in collaborative working spaces and online while watching TED talks and/or getting involved in microfinance projects at Kiva or Kickstarter.