posts 16 - 30 of 36
lurando
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Why Are Americans Mad?

Even though I don’t necessarily think that Brooks was wrong to say that the collective no longer holds the same, standard set of morals because of the success in America that the previous generation grew up in, I think he’s leaving out some very key factors here. America has been the most diverse it has ever been, we’re growing up with modern technology, and we live in a political climate where both sides are as polarizing as they can be with each other. I want to specifically focus on the last point for this question. I realize that this isn’t the first time that both political sides are at a standstill with each other, indeed, I think the era around Reconstruction is a great example of how the climate is like today as well. Both sides vehemently believe that their side is in the right to the point of extreme hostility. The things that each side values and are trying to protect are pretty similar to the two sides today. Compounded with the usage of social media and echo chambers, we often regard the other side as morally inferior and completely wrong. If a chunk of the population is split into two sides, it’s natural that this sense of distrust for our fellow Americans would be very high. In addition, using the examples of the government and institutional failures that happened in 2020 alone that Brooks listed off under the section “Failure of Institutions,” how can Americans be trusting when they constantly see how bad the government has been performing for the people?


I would say that the years leading up to where we are now was a decline, a dam that was right about to burst. I do have to say that there were some years that led to outbursts, such as gay rights in 2015 and the Black Lives Matter movement from 2014. However, the pandemic that we’re living through right now has been pushing so many otherwise apathetic or unaffected people into a massive state of mind, as the article puts it, “liberalism to activism,” though to me, it seems that Brooks believes the shift is from a general trend that became more exasperated in recent years rather than the last couple years igniting this switch. I would say that there is a growing decline in social mobility, economic stability, and mental health, and certainly 2020 has solidly contributed to the decline. But, one other thing that we as a society is going to maintain even after the pandemic is the knowledge that we’ve gained over this period. Much of the youth is more fired up than ever and traditionally oppressed groups and minorities have never reached this level of platform as they had before. However, even if I do want to be hopeful, the biggest and most important changes can only happen through the government. Brooks interestingly noted that every time the US goes through a catastrophe or some sort of extreme turmoil, there will always be a massive response of political reforms and social institutions. I believe that the election of 2020 will dictate whether or not we do go through that route or stay in this unrelenting decline. In the meantime, I want to stay hopeful and believe we’re in a pivot. Of course, the non-Trump side might not even necessarily do the right thing, and could continue to head into the course we’re currently in.


America is not the greatest nation of the world. America is the flashiest nation. It’s incredibly cunning in that it’s able to hide everything that is unglamorous about the country. America can never truly be a success story when the country has literally been powered through people who have been stripped bare of their humanity and have stayed shackled through the massively unbalanced socio-economic structure that we currently live in today. It‘s no surprise that everywhere you look on social media or the internet in general, you will find many non-Americans looking down on what it has become. Why has America, for so many years, refused to resolve these issues and truly be this country of the champion for equality, justice, and freedom that it has touted for so long? It’s simply because it doesn’t want to acknowledge them. Acknowledging them means that America is hypocritical, that it has been hypocritical from the start and has always been hypocritical since then. If you look at the composition of the government body and the wealth curve or anything of that sort, Brooks’s explanation of individualism is the key. People make decisions for what they most believe in, what they’re most affected by, and what they most care about. With individualism being driven so deep, it’s clear that that’s another reason why everybody was not championed for or accounted for.


I think @thesnackthatsmilesback puts it pretty well when they say that we’re not living in the age of disappointment but instead the age of knowing. Of course, newspapers, radios, and televisions have been widespread before the 2000s and especially so in the 1900s, but modern technology has put so much on our fingertips. Gone are the days where we actually have to wait to get our daily or weekly newspaper, instead, we can literally google anything we want under a second, provided that someone reported on it of course, which it almost usually is. It’s strange, we’re supposed to be more progressive than ever, yet when we look at what the government is doing and examine the framework of our society, the changes that we want to see are definitely not there. People have different ideas of “disappointment.” Some people are disappointed that the recent generation have become too “soft” and “sensitive,” which @user1234 also noted. Some people are disappointed because social mobility and the wealth gap is ever increasing despite a more educated population than ever. Some people are disappointed as the world becomes ever more connected with each other through the Internet, they feel helpless as they see the innumerous injustices, corruption, oppression, and abuse still going on. Brooks merely mentions the massive declining of the mental health and morale of young Americans as the climax of this moral climax, but I believe that the declining mental health is most attributed to the fact that because Americans have been more aware than ever of the precarious situation they themselves are in. It’s surprising at first to hear that depression is more common in developed countries than undeveloped countries, but I think it makes sense if we look at the amount of awareness, knowledge, and conversations that are happening to the people.


I think it’s more of “we’re victims to the system” rather than “we’re outsiders to the system.” I do agree with Levin however that the institutions dictate how success should be achieved and in turn spur how people should act and behave and do in order to be successful. I mean, Donald Trump is an example of a reality TV star becoming one of the most important American figures, therefore proving Levin’s claim that politicians only want to be in the spotlight, not because they believe they can help the country. Similar to how @Cookie Monster mentioned about the privileged class trying to preserve and maximize profits through the expense of everyone else, large corporations and of course the wealthy and the privileged still do the same thing now, largely because the system that the institutions have established allows and encourages for this type of thing to occur. The thing I disagree with though, is that the people still believe they have to live by this system, but feels powerless to act because of the means to change them (money, power, affluence) is unfortunately out of reach for those who truly needs it and the ones who do feel either apathetic or that they simply don’t want to change the status quo.


George Floyd is a fierce reminder that without changing or reforming the existing institutions, nothing would change. Because it happened during a time when everybody was glued to their phone, nobody could escape this grim reality. Tens of millions of eyes were on the justice system as the perpetrators were tried, so was it really surprising that Americans were enraged at our institutions and at our laws when they saw the outcome and finally realized America is no “champion of the people”? COVID only further highlighted the incompetency of our government and especially our figurehead. America is finally having its cracks exposed.

boricua1234
Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by BLStudent on October 14, 2020 20:33

Yes a-lot of people in this moment are acting out of distrust in established institutions and a-lot the time this distrust is justified because of the repeated failures of these institutions. The BLM movement as Brooks pointed out is a great example of rightful distrust being displayed, the police are supposed to protect and serve the people but as we've seen countless times cops abuse their power and then the entire system does everything it can to protect them, Brooks also mentioned how the George Floyd incident wasn't the first like it but it definitely propelled the movement to the point its at now and for a lot of people the death of George Floyd was a wake up call despite this cycle of violence going on forever. I think currently were in a decline but were close to a pivot soon, right now with everything going America seems to be at a very low point but it seems like we are on the verge of making dramatic change with a growing awareness of various issues and the election of more progressive candidates specifically like Brooks mentioned AOC and Bernie. Most of us absolutely see ourselves as outsiders to the system right now because the system has failed. While Trumps presidency is part of this failure i believe its a symptom rather than a cause. For years under both Republicans and Democrats we've seen endless wars, economic instability, corruption and all types of misconduct so it really should come as no surprise that a so called "outsider" won the election. I would say the age of disappoint was more felt by millennials and because of that Gen Z had much lower expectations going in and a-lot of our low expectations turned out to be true. America is certainly of the richest and most powerful countries in the world but it also has countless issues that need to be resolved before it can even argue for the title of greatest nation. Fighting over greatest nation is generally a waste of time but if you were to then the best response would be the happiest nations in the world like Finland and Denmark as opposed to the US which is often not even in the top 10.

I agree with what you said about fighting over the greatest nation and how it is pointless and I think it is very interesting how this is not only a theme for America but also BLS. Our school slogan is Sumus Primi and although we are considerered "smart" we have poor mental health services and it is interesting how we value such things as grades over the well being of people. I liked how you said that the greatest nations were the happiest ones because it seems like today our values are very skewed and the emotions of the people do not matter. But to be a great nation you need compassion and trust to be great thus making us... not great.

cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

America in a Lower-Trust Era

The article was very fascinating; it made me think about the current state of our country. While reading the article, I considered the direction that America is heading and its future. Whether it is bleak or promising? I am excited to share some of my thoughts.


For Generation Z, in our lifetime, our country has faced a war with Iraq, the Great Recession, and Trump’s inauguration. We have felt the impacts of these events, which caused racial and social imbalance to arise in various ways. Before the Trump administration and the pandemic, people already had distrust in the government. However, the COVID pandemic and the killing of George Floyd were the bursting point for America, as all of the bottled-up turmoil of the last two decades came gushing out. Racial disparities and discrimination increased, and our country saw the highest rate of unemployment. These conditions and institutions’ failure to address and fix them have caused the distrust of the American people to worsen. With all of these circumstances being considered, I believe that I have grown up in the age of disappointment.


“The United States is the greatest nation in the world” and “America was the greatest success on earth”, both are huge overstatements. When someone says anything to this degree, they are looking at America on the surface level. To respond to @BlueWhale24, I agree with their point about how America has reached success in terms of its economy on a global scale, explaining why some people might think that America is the greatest country. These individuals also see the constitutional rights of America, as I often find common phrases that are associated with America, including “freedom”, “ free speech”, “it’s a free country”, or “ the right to the pursuit of happiness”. This emphasis on freedom, a Boomer value, is being overpowered by the Millennial and Gen Z generations’ value of equality. The voices of younger generations have helped us look deeper under the surface; we see that our country is still struggling with equality for people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community.


To answer Yuval Levin’s argument, I agree that people in high-trust eras have more of a “first-person-plural instinct” to ask ‘What can we do?’, while people in lower-trust eras have a greater tendency to say ‘They’re failing us.’ Given that America is currently in a lower-trust era, I have often thought ‘the government is failing us’ and ‘they are not doing anything to address these issues.’ Throughout the pandemic, I have also compared our country to other countries that have successfully overcome COVID. This instinct in lower-trust periods comes from the fact that people feel let down by institutions. Their hopelessness in systems hinders them from asking how they can help because they believe that there is nothing that can be done. Furthermore, they do not trust that changes will be made. In contrast, periods with strong trust between the people and institutions will give them hope for a bright future that is attainable, urging them to seek out ways to help and contribute.


I wanted to respond to @thesnackthatsmilesback. I think that they made a great point about how technology and social media are allowing the younger generation to have easier access to information, which helps them become more conscious of issues in our country and around the world. However, social and digital media have their disadvantages too. With so many perspectives and numerous resources, oftentimes, it can become overwhelming, as individuals find it hard to differentiate between information and resources that are credible and not credible. This adds to the general distrust of citizens. If it is difficult to trust public knowledge via social media and news platforms, it becomes hard to trust our government and the people that run it.


Even with the activism and efforts from the Millennial and Gen Z generations, I feel that we as a society are living through a decline. As the article addressed, marginalized groups are among the groups that show the highest level of social distrust in America. In addition, the percentage of individuals that “believed that most people around them could be trusted” declined as you went down each generation; for Generation Z, only 19 percent said that they could trust the people around them. These statistics do not paint a hopeful picture of our future. If our generation, future leaders of our country, cannot trust the people around us, how can we come together to combat the issues of racial, gender, and social inequality? Trusting one another goes hand-in-hand with trusting the government and institutions that lead us. With such distrust in our systems and institutions, how can Americans count on our government to overcome this pandemic, address and combat social and racial issues, and save our ecosystems?

kurapika
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 5

Distrust in Society

I really enjoyed reading this article, especially the points Brooks made about the lack of trust in this country. I do think that people are acting with less trust in things around them. Most people around us are heavily skeptical about the institutions, systems, and policies in place --- I know I am. I agree with @yvesIKB in that I also think that this general feeling of distrust is caused in part by the fact that we feel that the institutions in place at this time do not support us or benefit us. I also feel like the divisive climate in our nation is to blame for this as well. I think we have all felt our society get more divided, especially in the political arena. Why would we place our trust in those whose beliefs could potentially harm our own wellbeing? I do think this skepticism is well placed--- like Brooks said in his article we have every right to be mistrustful, especially with the events (government’s handling of COVID, Black Lives Matter protests, police brutality) that have taken place during this pandemic. Instead of using this event as a way to support and unite everyone, I feel like this pandemic has divided us further.


I really do hope that this point in our history will turn out into a pivotal point, but I fear that that may be too naive or idealistic. Like Brooks said, “the stench of national decline is in the air...America will only remain whole if we can build a new order in its place.” Honestly, I feel like our nation is either too broken or too stuck in its ways (or both) to put in the effort to create such a thing. I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t know how this period of time will turn out, a pivot or decline.


When I saw the sentence “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I scoffed in disbelief. I certainly don’t think our country is the greatest. While we do have a good economy and a history of political stability (compared to other countries in the world), we as a nation have a long list of shortcomings that we refuse to acknowledge or try to correct. I do however recognize the privilege that comes with being raised in this country. I just don’t like the idea of glorifying a country and its institutions. I think it blinds people from facing the flaws that are inevitably there.


I do think that my generation has grown up in the Age of Disappointment. Generation Z was raised during a time of unrest. In our early days we and our families felt the aftermath of 9/11 and the 2008 recession. I think that is why we almost expect disappointment. Throughout our childhood and even now we have seen institutions crumble or see how they just don’t support the people they are meant to support. This is why many are heavily skeptical towards authority, or feel ostracised from society/community. The feeling of being “outside” of a system is a common one these days, and one I have. But, like @ernest said, we are part of the system, of society, so it is our obligation to take action when we feel we need to make a change.


lurando
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by Cookie Monster on October 14, 2020 16:24

Individualism was only emphasized for those in the first class of our society, while every one else was marginalized for being a member of a marginalized group. Thus, the cohesiveness that Brooks reiterated is contradicts the actual picture of American culture at the time.

This is why I heavily disagree with Brooks's point that America used to have a single mainstream culture. From the moment the country became populated with settlers, the "culture" and the way of life in each colony was vastly different from each other due to the different types of settlers in each area and the geography in which they live in. It wasn't until the Civil War era that Americans were finally encouraging this idea of the American collective. Sure, some people might be tied together by the films, books, and music they listen to, but they were almost exclusively made by white Americans for white Americans. People who simply are not white or who do not fit the mold are not part of the white mainstream culture, instead, they have their own unique culture. Therefore, it's wrong to say that America has this one super cohesive mainstream culture that every American can relate to. Even today, the lack of non-white representation in mainstream culture is quite low, despite minorities making up 40% of the population.

bebe
Posts: 6

How Can we Trust the Uncertain?

David Brooks’ essay, while incredibly well written and introspective, left me feeling very pessimistic about both the current state and the future of America, and even myself.


The entire world is living in an entire time of uncertainty. Nobody knows exactly what tomorrow will look like. That uncertainty already makes us very skeptical of anything we do or hear, and that is only heightened by poor leadership. In this case, I completely agree with Brooks that we live in an age of distrust. We cannot even listen to our own president about a global health crisis, who in return does not listen to the scientists hard at work trying to save the American people.


Although there is an incredible amount of distrust in America right now, this is not a completely new issue. According to this article, in 2018, only 15.3% of African Americans felt they could trust others, compared to 37.3% of white Americans. This makes total sense. Why would Black Americans have trust in white Americans? They have been targeted by them over and over for hundreds of years, just because of the color of their skin. We have a deep rooted history of biases in our country, and that manifests itself into an incredible lack of trust.


We live in a country where most people are unable to have any faith in each other. The claim that the United States is the greatest nation in the world is completely ridiculous. As Brooks points out, our country is one with immense historical success, but in no way does this make us “the greatest.” Since the birth of our nation, America has always been portrayed as a country of freedom and opportunity. Everyone wanted a chance to make it here. That definitely went straight to our heads. In the past six months, over 210,000 people have died from COVID-19. We have a president who refuses to condemn white supremacy, and sees no problem with the startlingly high number of police brutality victims, especially in the past months.


I completely agree with @Thesnackthatsmilesback that America has become a global laughing stock. The point made about the obsession with self gain is incredibly relevant and important. As a country, we have no chance of moving forward to fulfill this age old claim when everybody is only focused on helping themselves.


Brooks’ claim that we are growing up in “the age of disappointment” is definitely valid. Whether it is personal disappointments streaming from unreasonable media standards, or just the depressing state of our society in general, we are used to our expectations being left unfulfilled. We do not have any substantial accomplishments to be proud of. We have never had to overcome first hand a major genocide, like Valentina Kosieva, the woman interviewed by Brooks about her experience surviving World War II. While a horrible tragedy like this should never be repeated, the way it brought the country, and the world together is something that Gen Z people will never know.


America is not on an incline right now. We did not just overcome an obstacle. We are living in one.


The COVID 19 pandemic, coupled with the intense racial injustice in our country has made for a time with incredible uncertainty. David Brooks’ essay could not be more relevant. We are living in fear of one another, and that is bringing our entire society down. We don’t just need a leader to lift us up, we also need each other.


Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 9

Moral Convulsion

I believe people’s distrust has led people to react in different ways. Some people have become apathetic, they don’t care about the safety of others because others dont care about theirs. Others have become sad and angered because although they continue to care about the rest of society it doesn’t seem like the empathy is being reciprocated.

When looking at the pattern history has presented it can be easily argued that we are living through a pivot because it seems to happen every “60 years”. However in my opinion we are living through a decline because our society seems to be less cohesive than ever. A lot of people feel that it’s America against themselves, which is a discomforting feeling. No one should live fearing their own country. Additionally it feels like all aspects of life are failing at once; economically, geographically, politically, and morally.

Is there another America I haven’t been exposed to? America is up there in success number wise, and in comparison to other countries. However, America could be a thousand times better. The citizens of America need to feel safe and free in order for America to truly be great.

As a 17 year old I do believe that I have grown up in the age of disappointment. Though I was the last of this generation to not fully rely on social media, once I was opened up to it I got sadder. There was a shift in my mood once I was exposed to all the problems in the world. I definitely have grown up debating whether I should stand by my parents morals or my own because they lived in different times. I’m not proud of America at all.

I agree with being outsiders to the distrust system. America is in a gray area where everyone feels differently about all the shameful events that have occurred. As a result there’s a confusion on who is supposed to be taking action. Both our system and our people are failing.

COVID and the killing of George Floyd have added on to societal distrust because the outbreak of COVID proved that our government can’t be trusted with our health. The killing of George Floyd proved that our protectors are our own enemies.

Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by user1234 on October 14, 2020 17:50

The article was very interesting, and I think that it brought up a very good point about the social distrust that is currently happening in America. Although some people might not even realize it everything going on in America right now is because of the lack of trust that they have in other people. Taking politics for example, it was interesting when the article talked about how some people of low income voted for Trump because they felt so betrayed by elite politicians. Like the article mentions, the pandemic was a chance for all of us to come together, but instead we turned against each other, and that just goes to show the deep rooted issue of mistrust in America.

I agree with @thesnackwhosmilesback when they said that they hope they aren’t being naive by thinking of this time as a pivot and not a decline. Although maybe my thinking is naive, I think Gen Z is taking advantage of this time and making it a pivot. I’ve seen so many of my peers and other kids my age on the internet use their voices to help bring change. We aren’t declining because even though my generation was born into a society of distrust we are trying our hardest to try to bring people together. Like the article says we are using tools like social media to bring awareness to issues and make people feel like they have a community that they can feel safe and trust completely.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I have mixed emotions. Although I know America is much better than a lot of other countries because of the economy and the different freedoms that a lot of people don’t have, at the same time America also has a lot of negative aspects. As much as people preach that everyone is treated equally in America that is very far from true. So many minority groups have been marginalized for centuries. Just looking at 2020 black Americans live in fear everyday that they’re lives are in danger even if they’re in their own homes. It just makes me upset that people, especially older people will get mad at me for questioning if America is really all that great, and I think in part it has to do with the fact that they were born into a time that was full of hope and things were going well. I just hope that it doesn’t blind them from the fact that America also has its flaws.

I 100% percent agree that my generation was born in a time of disappointment because we’re constantly being let down. We were born in the early 2000’s when everyone had just gone through the “summer” that was the 90’s, and when we were born everyone had lived through so much tragedy already and lost all the good expectations they had. How can we not feel disappointed when everyday we’re being taught that racism is a thing of the past, and then we see black people being murdered by white police officers for no reason. Our government is quite possibly the worst it’s ever been. Our country is being led by a president who was a reality star with no prior experience in politics before he became president. Everyday there’s something new that disappoints us. I’ve had older people tell me that we're too “soft” and “complain” too much, but I don’t think we’re the ones who are the problem, it's the environment we’ve grown up in.

I agree with Levin’s point that we see ourselves as outsiders because of our distrust in the people around us. Although I agree I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. In order to get to the place of ‘What can we do?” we have to realize that what’s happening to us is not okay. We have to be able to see that everything going on is affecting all of us in order to get to a place where we can come together to fight against it. I think that the pandemic and all the racial injustice that is going on in our country is making us scared, and making us feel like outsiders. The thing we need to realize is that in order to get to a better place we have to put trust in each other. Although we feel we’ve been wronged before by the system, we can’t let that stop us from believing in humanity. That only way we’ll get to a place where we put the collective before the individual is, like the article states, by having faith in each other.

I agree with the fact that we need to find a way to build the trust because there's nothing else to do. Society has gone to complete ish and without any union we're only going to go down. It's not supposed to be easy because it's like walking in the dark, but there needs to be some sort of faith if any progression is going to happen.

dxaoko
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

So, What Next?

For months, the COVID-19 pandemic has given us, the people, several moments of evaluation towards ourselves and our country. In David Brooks’s article, “America Is Having A Moral Convulsion”, he brings up several aspects of America’s history that has led us to our present now and the reasons for why there is such a division in our country.

At this moment in time, the people are operating the way they are due to the lack of trust in society, especially after comparing the economic growth that America has witnessed in the past, specifically during the Baby Boomer generation. This “earned distrust” has been amplified, especially after the lack of proper precaution and poor decision-making from higher powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like @cherryblossom has said, one of the reasons why there are such levels of social distrust among the people is because there are several disparities that have been further acknowledged, especially after the lynchings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Despite several platforms being available in which people are able to educate themselves and break out of a more conservative mindset, it is still difficult to break out of that American individualism that they have been used to for most of their lives. As a response to gaining more awareness to the disparities present in our system, I agree with Arendt that people turn to fanaticism in response to existential anxiety, which causes a stubborn, rigid ideology which carries the belief that the person who matches their ideology is the person is “capable” of leading. In this case, they believe that person is Donald Trump. Because we are living in a time where there is a prominent switch from liberalism to activism, as @Iurando mentioned, there are those who cannot accept the more progressive switch as it doesn’t align with their supposed leader.

In terms of now, I wish to say that we are currently at a pivot point for positive changes in our country, but that isn’t the case. For years, there has been our country has declined in many aspects, including affordable healthcare, higher employment rates, proper housing, education, and climate change. Even though major events have happened up to this point, including the lynchings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, which have spurred on the movement for Black Lives Matter and caused other marginalized groups to speak out, there is still distrust among the people. In the case that people refuse to come together because of that distrust, there is not going to be much room for change.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I have never heard something so wrong. From the foundation of this country and even up until now, the ideals that have been advertised were of equality and opportunity, yet such great disparities have always been present in our system. I do agree with @kurapika’s point that even if our country has a considerably better economy than other countries in the world, it does not excuse the fact that there are changes that have to be made. In general, countries shouldn’t be glorified for providing the basic needs of the people, just as someone shouldn’t be celebrated for doing the bare minimum of treating others with decency.

I do agree to some extent that we live in an “Age of Disappointment” as Brooks calls it but I believe it’s more accurate to say that that same disappointment has fueled us to take more action for change. Brooks mentions that there is a significant difference between the Baby Boomer Generation and Gen Z/millennial generation, the difference being that there is a lack of social trust. The “Age of Disappointment” is characterized by the growing collapse of our institutions and the effects from which emphasis on moral freedom and individualism has influenced our society. Because of this, young adults, have been growing up to witness or experience the lack of security financially, socially, and emotionally. The intersection among these three things can be described as having an overall detrimental effect on an individual in society: from the financial difficulties of being in a single-parent household, having to identify your entire being from a young age, and social media platforms often enabling one to put another’s opinions of themselves at a much higher value than their own. The accumulation of these events can lead to much more anxiety and depression, and eventually distrust. The same distrust that cause people to lose faith in modern society. Despite this, we acknowledge that no matter how negative a perception we have towards our system, we are not outsiders, and thus we have to take it upon ourselves to initiate change, whether that be through educating ourselves, developing a more lateral way of thinking, voting, voicing our opinions and letting ourselves be heard.

I do believe that people have the instinct to say “What can we do” in a high-trust era whereas in a low-trust era, they would say “they’re failing us”. What can be implied when the first person plural is used, is that there is a higher trust among the people, which translates into a greater feeling of togetherness to solve a problem. However, the them vs. us mentality already shows a divide in thought and communication between the higher power and the people who are affected by the disparities in the system. What is implied here is that the people feel this divide because despite wanting to initiate change to improve their lifestyle, they simply don’t have the resources that the higher powers due; no money, assets, and connections mean a less likely chance to make such a change. When this feeling of incapability arises, the people no longer trust or depend on the institutions and government that are supposed to lift them up in their time of need. We are not outsiders of the system, but we are the ones who feel every effect of its imbalances.

Killings, such as the one of George Floyd, have always been occurring yet are simply looked over in the media. Yet, the rise of COVID-19 has forced people to become increasingly aware of what is happening in, not only our country, but the world. As Brooks mentioned, George Floyd is emblematic of how the several years of discrimination and disparities in our country has accumulated to the point where they can no longer go unnoticed. There is a fear of change that is circulating on what happens next, and what will happen to the future of America, and with all the uncertainty that comes with how divided our country has become, it is difficult to see where we will go.

Noodles
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 8

A Divided Society: Failure, Mistrust, Fear

I found the article to be extremely interesting, especially the changes in mindsets from generation to generation. Gen Z is much more progressive than past generations, but also much less trustworthy of those around them. There is so much distrust, thinking that others (specifically those supporting Trump) are not taking the necessary safety precautions and are not able to be politically trusted (as there is, again, mistrust in whether facts are actually factual). There are also the differences in trust between social classes, as many people of low income voted for Trump out of mistrust for the “elitist” politicians. Like the article pointed out, the pandemic has only exposed these flaws, as they were present far before COVID-19 began spreading. It showed our distrust in society, so much so that we turned against each other during the first few months of the outbreak, shown by the lootings and excessive hoarding of goods.

I believe that we are living through a pivot, as, although it feels like a decline as many of our highest esteemed institutions seem to be ridiculed and coming apart, it is also exposing and bringing light to many of the flaws in our system that were unbeknownst to us before. As @user1234 said, our generation is using technology to bring awareness to these issues and bring along change. And although we can’t physically be around each other, social media is bringing people together through online forums and communities, which can help to restore some trust and faith in our society.

I believe that the idea of the USA is greater than the US really is. From afar it may seem like the greeted nation because of the freedom, social mobility, economic opportunities, equality, and meritocracy that is afforded to all its citizens, or at least seems to be. But these do not outweigh its flaws, such as the deep rooted, systemic racism and the marginalization and oppression of minority groups. The article also referenced the Soviet Union and US globalization, when the US was spreading “freedom and democracy” around the world and economically helping challenged countries. Yet that wasn’t their main goal, in reality the US wanted to get rid of communism while spreading capitalism, which would benefit the US as they could control, to some extent, their spheres of influence. The US prospered and gained power while being seen by the world as the bringers of democracy and freedom. This is how I see the US, always portraying itself as the greatest country in the world, while it hides it’s true nature; full of flaws, greedy, and, at least now-a-days, barely functional.

We have grown up in the age of disappointment. The 80s and 90s were a time of relative harmony, always glamorized in television as a golden age; no worries at all. Then the 2000s rolls around, and it seems like everything starts to go downhill. Not just with 911, but also the economic crash destroyed any harmony from the 80s and 90s. Yet, as kids we were told that we were living in the modern era, that we need not be worried about anything. Older generations commented on how Gen Z never lived through a disaster, and our lives were so easy compared to their childhoods; that we are too soft because of monetization. Yet, they don’t realize how much distrust we have in society. We go to school hoping to learn, but are constantly worried that a school shooter might enter our building. Our government is terrible, the police - who are supposed to be our protectors - are shooting innocent civilians, our environment is dying and we face an inevitable end of resources that past generations have taken for granted, facts are optional and some not even factual anymore, we are living in a pandemic, and yet we don’t complain because this is what we grew up with. We have learned to take our disappointment and turn it into action through protests and marches, all in the hope for a better future.

Reluctantly, I agree with Lenin’s point, because people tend to want to abandon ships when society isn’t helping them. It makes sense that in a lower-trust era, people might not see society as worth saving, as they don’t trust the others involved, or don’t trust that they would help make society a better place. It is so much easier to ask “what can we do?” in a flourishing society, as people have pride in that society and want to make sure other generations can enjoy that same prosperity and trust. But once society has started to fail, and we start feeling like outsiders, we lose our power and ability to make a difference. We live in a democratic society, where the power is in the people. If we no longer see ourselves as the people, then we have no power by which to bring along change. Although we have all been wronged by the system, some more than others, it does not give us the right to tear down or further destroy society. The whole idea of power in the people is that a single individual cannot bring along change. We need to be able to trust each other in order to work as a collective to enact change, to right the wrongs and bring faith back in humanity. This is the tough part, for COVID prevents gatherings and mass protests, restricting the tools of which we can voice our opinions and disgust of the killings of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and all the other injustices committed by the system. Fear of police brutality against protesters, and the threat of COVID prevented many from partaking in the demonstrations, but we can’t let fear stop us from doing what is right, else the system wins again.

wisteria
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

I think that today Americans are far less generous with their trust, but not without good reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in the city, but I think it is unreasonable and dangerous to grant those around you trust without them earning it first. It is difficult to have trust in strangers when you know what people are capable of, and the same goes for larger societal institutions when you understand the history behind them and their actions today. As regions have become more culturally, racially, and ideologically diverse, implicit biases and conflicting viewpoints can make it more challenging to allocate trust based on proximity and location alone. People naturally gravitate towards those they can relate to, and thanks to modern technology, people’s social spheres can now extend far beyond the limits of their block, city, even the country. This means less dependence on the neighborhood for a source of community and group identity. Technology and the media have also made us accutely aware of all the ways in which society and government have seemingly failed us. Brooks seems a bit mournful that be have lost this sense of local community, but I think it has allowed us to broaden our own thinking and access more perspectives.

Brooks often mentions how Millenials and younger generations are becoming increasingly jaded and distrustful, which could be due to their greater exposure to reality at a young age through the internet and media. They have also entered adult life and the workforce in a time when, as Brooks points out, they can’t expect a higher quality of life than their parents had. I think it is accurate to say that us younger generations are living in an age of disappointment. After being fed stories of the American Dream our whole childhoods, it is a rude awakening to realize that there are so many unexpected obstacles along the way, both for ourselves and others. With our heightened sense of morality and empathy, it is easy to feel disappointed when the government fails to address the causes that we care about and are most affected by. This ties into Brooks’ quote from Yuval Levin, which points out how people in a low trust environment are more likely to isolate themselves from society and assign it blame rather than ask “what can we do?”. I don’t believe a population’s reaction can be realistically simplified to these two alternatives. On their own, neither is very reflective of what we’ve seen in the US recently. Although we are living through a period of low trust, as Brooks’ stresses with reputable data throughout the essay, Americans have taken it upon themselves to demand change and accountability from the societal institutions they believe have failed us. This is evident in the many protestors taking to the streets and social media sites to advocate for law enforcement and legal reform. While calling out these issues, many have also acknowledged how these systems have contributed to their own privilege and benefit, which seems to me to be a balance between the two instincts Levin and Brooks referred to. So while we are outsiders to these systems based on our lack of direct influence and power within them, we still feel some level of social responsibility to act when they have failed us.

I think incessant patriotism and the idea of America being “the greatest nation in the world” is somewhat outdated and relies on selective memory. A large portion of our success as a country was made possible by the oppression and exploitation of many groups, which has left lasting scars, and so a lot of these broad statements of praise often leave me wondering things like “but for whom is it so great?”. We have been making significant progress since our founding, setting us ahead of many countries around the world, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. However, I think you can be proud of your country while still acknowledging its shortcomings and failures, and working toward changing those.

We are certainly in a period of great upheaval and change, but departure from tradition or normalcy isn’t always an indication of decline. We are seeing economic decline, but hopefully we can begin to recover from this once the pandemic is under control. Brooks wrote “The stench of national decline is in the air. A political, social, and moral order is dissolving. America will only remain whole if we can build a new order in its place.” If you rely on sociopolitical stability as the sole metric by which to discern the state of our nation, then sure, we are in somewhat of a decline right now. However, I see our current situation as a result of the frustrations and wrongs that have been accumulating for years. Covid and the murder of George Floyd have brought them to the surface, exacerbating the disparities that have always existed in our society. How can we just now be on a decline when these problems have persisted for generations, and we are just now confronting them? So on some level I do agree with Brooks, in that we need to rethink the order of our country and its institutions. The current moment is an opportunity to pivot in a new direction, and if we fail to do so our country will surely suffer.

Brooks ends his piece by writing “Sometimes trust blooms when somebody holds you against all logic, when you expected to be dropped.” However, I think that in order to restore trust within our nation, there are a few things that need to be dropped. The complacent, indifferent attitudes of the past, the division and dishonesty among our leading officials all need to go, and hopefully that can start this November.

speedyninja
BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Pivot or Collapse?

While observations can certainly be made about human and societal behaviors, I think they are too complex to describe and understand in one article; this may be impossible to do. However, Mr. Brooks’ article certainly brings up intriguing points about the current situation in the United States, and its similarity to pivotal times in other recent societies.


One prevalent theme of Brooks' article is the importance of trust in a successful article. Brooks argues that trust is indicative of a society’s “moral quality”, and that when a society's morals are in question, trust disappears, and a great change or collapse occurs. I agree with Brooks, that a lack of trust is one contributing factor to the way people are behaving in the United States. One example of this is the Black Lives Movement. Many Americans, especially African Americans, no longer have trust in the police’s ability to protect and instead think they are a threat to those they are supposed to serve. Therefore they are protesting, and calling for reform in policing in the United States. Another example of behavior influenced by a lack of trust, as Brooks mentions, could lie in the election of Donald Trump. Trump received a lot of support from the large, working class population of the United States, who often lack trust in the economy and believe they have been betrayed by elites. It is evident that lack of trust can explain many of the actions of people in the United States, among other related feelings such as fear and anger.


Another observation Brooks makes is that it is likely the United States is likely headed towards a big pivot or collapse; the only question is which one. I think only time can tell. Although it may seem as if Americans are too divided and lack too much trust in each other to pull together, I would argue we have been through worse. For example, the Civil War. If the United States can pull together after southern states fought to become separate, there is no reason to believe the same can not be accomplished now. However, as Brooks makes it clear, this will be a challenge, as it seems all aspects of society including politics, economics, and social factors are divided and collapsing. Although Brooks is quite pessimistic about the current state of our country, he does mention that for a time, America was widely considered “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”. Many would argue this was never the case, and some would argue this is still the case. I believe that determining the “Greatest Nation in the World” at any time is futile, as there is no rubric delineating the greatness of a nation. As @ernest. noted, “America has had great success in many areas: a robust and dominant economy, effective preeminence in the international community, and a history of democracy...”, as well as other great qualities such as freedom of religion and speech. However, as @user1234 noted, there are and were plenty of negative aspects of life in the United States, for example, the marginalization of many minority groups. Considering the state of other nations in the past few hundred years, I think it is hard to argue that the United States was not overall one of the most powerful and successful nations in the world. However, if any factor in my opinion dictates the greatness of a nation, it would have to be how happy its people. In the United States, this has always varied greatly from person to person due to our roots of Capitalism and freedom.


Especially recently, as Brooks notes, it seems society has unravelled and our naive expectations of a happy and harmonious society have changed to disappointment. In my life, it certainly feels as if all around me there is disaster and destruction. From watching the news about the latest Terrorist attack to learning about environmental degradation to reading articles about a slew of issues such as Brooks’, it is almost impossible to avoid hearing about disappointments. Perhaps this is due to the increased spread of information and the “age of knowing”, as @thesnackthatsmilesback mentioned, or maybe we truly are in the midst of collapse. In this sense, it does seem as Brooks asserted that we have grown up in the age of disappointment. However in a more personal sense, the same can not be said. Despite constantly hearing about disappointments around the world, luckily my life has been comfortable and quiet, free of traumatic events, and my biggest worries have for as long as I can remember been academic. While a general theme of this generation seems to be disappointment, I have not had the same experience so far. This could tie into Yuval Levin’s point about the contrast between the “we” mindset of higher trust societies vs the “they” mindset of low trust societies. I completely agree with Levin’s point about how in low trust times, we see ourselves as outsiders in problematic situations and systems. It certainly is natural to feel as if everyone and everything else is the problem, although without enough self reflection, this is dangerous and can lead to a slippery slope of accusations, assigning blame, people getting defensive, rising emotions, and little actual change. For example, in learning about economic inequality last year, we learned about the lack of trust in the economic system, and it was natural to feel as if the often blamed one percent were at fault and that they needed to change their ways. As Brooks noted, the prevailing belief is that the elites, “pulled up the ladders of opportunity behind them.” While this may be true, the “they need to change” mindset blinds us to the fact that we are members of this system too. Theoretically, anyone above the national average in economic standing could create some change by donating their “extra” money to the less fortunate.


If Brooks is correct, events such as the Pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, and others are fuel accelerating the process of the United States eminent pivot or collapse. Although they hold significance out of this context as well, I think that this is essentially true. In the case of the Pandemic, no doubt it would inevitably have caused chaos no matter the situation of the United States. However, I think it is quite telling that a country equipped with perhaps the most and best resources to deal with a public health threat has had the most cases and deaths of any country and has handled the Pandemic arguably the worst of any nation. I think it is also telling of the lack of trust and morality that the pandemic is talked and thought about mostly politically, when it has caused over 200,000 deaths and continues to tear through the country. As for the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, while in a positive sense, many people are truly passionate about reforming policing and stopping the tragic killings of African Americans, this too has created significant division and is used yet again as a political tool. Putting these protests in the context of imminent change could also answer why this issue has reached a climax now despite the history of police brutality. Throughout all of these events and their analysis, I think along with trust, fear lies at the heart of these issues. Fear certainly plays a role in the reaction to the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter Protests, the upcoming election, and everywhere else in the United States. When people are afraid, they turn to drastic measures and as Brooks stressed, we will see if this will lead to a pivot or decline in the United States.

wisteria
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by ernest. on October 14, 2020 18:54

Wow. Before I begin, I would like to say that this article was the most impressive piece of (nonfiction) writing I’ve ever come across. In the last year or so, I’ve come to start thinking a lot about our times and how they fit into History, the World, and Everything, and the way that this article seemed to be able to so clearly elucidate the context and reality of our times within its breadth was deeply impactful. I truly hope that I am able to write like Brooks one day.

Brooks is dead on when he faults societal distrust as a primary contributor to our society’s apparent crisis of social trust (I say apparent because, until reading this, I had not much considered that the “explosive” social distrust of today might be unique to our time). But I think it is necessary to elaborate on some of his points, especially when he highlights periods of “moral convulsion.” He paints the ‘90s under the broad stroke of general prosperity, both in actual indicators of societal well-being, and in perceptions of that well-being. However, one has to wonder—while we can accept that the ‘90s might have been a more prosperous period than today, did those good perceptions originate completely from the actual welfare of the economy, politics, and institutions, or did some great part of them stem from a lack of awareness of and consideration for other issues? Gay marriage was not legal in the ‘90s, and sodomy laws still existed in many states. Racism was certainly not at any kind of new low. Was the highly globalized supply chain of free market capitalism somehow less abusive to the workers in less-developed countries than it is now, or than it was beforehand in the ‘80s? Clearly, it was not all sunshine and daisies. Might periods of moral convulsion in the past have been more of an awakening, a stronger awareness of all the aspects of our society, than simply another period of upheaval in the regular intervals of social change and unrest?

We are living through a decline. There is no question about that; I cannot imagine a reason someone would say we are currently living through more of a pivot than a decline. Of course, there is complexity to the question. Brooks makes the entire thing seem more black-and-white than I really think it is: periods aren’t just either pivot and decline, they’re filled with movements and popular sentiments that lean in both directions, and it doesn’t make sense to say we’re only either in one or the other. In this period, however, with the economy poised to sink into a deleterious depression (especially if Congress cannot pass another stimulus package, ahem), with divisions higher than ever, with the pandemic raging as hard as ever, and with distrust and even disdain for authorities and experts proliferating, we are in an unmistakable decline. The good news, I think, is that in the social justice and equality sphere, the seeds have really been planted over the last few months in the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will lead to meaningful reforms over the next decade or more, as they grow in political force and a now-ingrained focus on anti-racism has its effects on policy and more.

Brooks’s praises for America are idealistic. It’s true that America has had great success in many areas: a robust and dominant economy, effective preeminence in the international community, and a history of democracy that, at least in the 19th century, seemed far ahead of many other monarchical or otherwise autocratic nations and empires. Nonetheless, it also has plenty shortcomings which we are all well aware of, like slavery, abuse and decimation of native peoples, and other deeply-entrenched systemic discrimination and oppression. So (especially during this time) it is a bit misguided to end with its “dazzling achievement.” But I disagree with @thesnackthatsmilesback, when they say Brooks is totally wrong and the world is laughing at America. In my opinion, this is conflating America’s current poor leadership and standing with its overall history. For the reasons I’ve listed at the beginning of this paragraph, America is definitely still respected and looked up to throughout the world, even if it is to a lesser extent today, and you can see this in the statements of political leaders, professionals, and others from abroad.

The Age of Disappointment has totally shaped our generation. This section of the article was particularly interesting to read and I think it convincingly argued that Gen Z, knowing nothing else, has become pretty mistrustful of authorities and institutions. And while this is healthy and understandable to a great extent, we have to be able to trust, and utilize, our institutions if we are to maintain and improve the condition of our society. For example, while it might be understandable that a Gen Z-er would express distrust in the efficacy of our voting system due to the electoral college, voter suppression, and disenfranchisement, the only way to actually change that problem is to vote. Thus it is extremely necessary for us to keep our faith in the systems and to keep using them, even while acknowledging their imperfection. This segues into my thoughts on Levin’s comment. While I think the quotation itself is illogical given the reality of how people operate in low-trust periods, its point is a good one. In low-trust periods like these, the emphasis is on both how the system is perceived to be failing, and how people believe they can fix it. The BLM movement and Trump’s unique brand/base have this in common, that they both see a system that is failing them, but also are looking to see what they can do, though in the case of Trump’s brand, “what they can do” seems more than anything keeping Trump and similar conservatives in office and nothing more.

I’d like to lastly add that for people like @thesnackthatsmilesback who see themselves as outsiders to the system- don’t, or at least, try not to. Seeing yourself as an outsider, is, I think, a consequence of a lot of stuff that Brooks talked about, but nonetheless it’s really important to realize that, as a member of society, you are society, you are the system, and that the federal government, while often disgracefully inactive on important issues, is not just in it for The 0.01% Elites and themselves. To begin with, all the congresspeople responsible for the lack of reform are not just sitting on Capitol Hill and deciding which reforms they want to support based on whims. Their actions are based on political calculations that involve what their constituents support, and what suits their agenda. At the moment, the majority of senators apparently do not believe that their constituents are in favor of change, and so the House bill meant to combat police brutality, and more, failed to pass. However, we will see shortly just how accurate that assessment was… and if polls remain as they stand now, it’s just not looking too good for Republicans at the moment. So while initial action failed, there is still hope for more to occur later on. And even then, action does not only happen on a national level. It starts with individuals who use whatever power they have, in club, sports, and extracurricular leadership, for example, to effect change. It occurs on the district, city, county, state, and even international level as well. And so far in 2020, change has definitely occurred on those levels, even if we still have farther to go. I firmly believe that the institutions currently in place do offer hope for change, even if they do not guarantee it.

So so sorry for the genuinely titanic length of this post *insert crying emoji*

I love how you described Brooks' depiction of past eras as being under "the broad stroke of general prosperity", and I think this is how many Americans choose to view our history. The rhetoric of our politicians, both revered and disliked, has certainly contributed to this perspective, as they are quicker to praise America for its achievements than to acknowledge its faults. However, it is because of these consistent faults that I believe we are in no more of a decline than we have been in the past. The convergence of our country's past wrongs and the new challenges brought on by the pandemic have elevated many of these longstanding issues to the point where willful ignorance is impossible. I think that right now we are at a cross roads. If we choose to continue on the path of denial and sociopolitical stagnancy, we will certainly descend into a darker part of our history. But if we are able to change the direction our nation is heading in, we could see significant improvement in many respects in the future. It seems like the election is going to determine how all of this turns out, which is why I agree that everyone, especially young people, needs to vote. It physically pains me whenever I see someone thinking they are making a statement by not voting because neither of the candidates appeal to them. However, I have confidence that these people do not reflect the majority, and that we will see a monumental voter turnout this year.

orangedino
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

I think that people are operating in this moment because of their distrust towards the government. Generally speaking, Republicans tend to not trust the government because they believe that the government should not have anything to do with their affairs, but now Democrats are also becoming distrusting towards the government. A lot of trust that they once had in the government was lost when Donald Trump was elected and when the government seemed to turn a blind eye towards the Black Lives Matter movement.


I believe we are living through a pivot. Our generation is becoming powerful by coming together and making sure our voices are heard. I strongly disagree with the idea that this is a decline. The issues with our government are finally coming to light, now we can try to do what we can to fix it. Although things seem bad recently, with many people of color being hurt and even killed by police officers, and not much hope in what our future president will during the next four years, we are finally trying to bring about massive change, and it might actually work since there are so many people advocating for it.


I do think I have grown up during the “age of disappointment”. People have little to no faith that people will do the right thing anymore. During the 2016 election, so many people were divided, and even more so now. There is such a stark contrast between the beliefs Trump supporters have compared to Biden Supporters. This difference causes people on both sides to believe that they will be disappointed by the actions done by people on the other side.


I believe that many people don’t feel like they have any responsibility towards improving our country. Many people place blame on the faults of our government but then also don’t attempt to do anything about it. Attending a protest can be enough to contribute, but many don’t even do that. How are politicians supposed to know that their citizens are unhappy when nobody is communicating that to them. Now, we are living through a time where it is expected that people use their pisces to express their thoughts on certain issues, which is better for our country, but also overwhelming.


Because of the pandemic, we all have had time sitting at home doing almost nothing. So a lot of people stayed up to date on current events. This brought attention to many issues within our own government. It is my personal opinion that the murder of George Flyod didn’t happen during this pandemic, but rather before, that there would not have been as much attention brought to it and that it would have been forgotten about with a month or so. So in a way, we have the pandemic to thank for that. For the fact that we are paying closer attention to what is happening in our country.

yvesIKB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Originally posted by wisteria on October 15, 2020 00:12

I think that today Americans are far less generous with their trust, but not without good reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in the city, but I think it is unreasonable and dangerous to grant those around you trust without them earning it first. It is difficult to have trust in strangers when you know what people are capable of, and the same goes for larger societal institutions when you understand the history behind them and their actions today. As regions have become more culturally, racially, and ideologically diverse, implicit biases and conflicting viewpoints can make it more challenging to allocate trust based on proximity and location alone. People naturally gravitate towards those they can relate to, and thanks to modern technology, people’s social spheres can now extend far beyond the limits of their block, city, even the country. This means less dependence on the neighborhood for a source of community and group identity. Technology and the media have also made us accutely aware of all the ways in which society and government have seemingly failed us. Brooks seems a bit mournful that be have lost this sense of local community, but I think it has allowed us to broaden our own thinking and access more perspectives.

Brooks often mentions how Millenials and younger generations are becoming increasingly jaded and distrustful, which could be due to their greater exposure to reality at a young age through the internet and media. They have also entered adult life and the workforce in a time when, as Brooks points out, they can’t expect a higher quality of life than their parents had. I think it is accurate to say that us younger generations are living in an age of disappointment. After being fed stories of the American Dream our whole childhoods, it is a rude awakening to realize that there are so many unexpected obstacles along the way, both for ourselves and others. With our heightened sense of morality and empathy, it is easy to feel disappointed when the government fails to address the causes that we care about and are most affected by. This ties into Brooks’ quote from Yuval Levin, which points out how people in a low trust environment are more likely to isolate themselves from society and assign it blame rather than ask “what can we do?”. I don’t believe a population’s reaction can be realistically simplified to these two alternatives. On their own, neither is very reflective of what we’ve seen in the US recently. Although we are living through a period of low trust, as Brooks’ stresses with reputable data throughout the essay, Americans have taken it upon themselves to demand change and accountability from the societal institutions they believe have failed us. This is evident in the many protestors taking to the streets and social media sites to advocate for law enforcement and legal reform. While calling out these issues, many have also acknowledged how these systems have contributed to their own privilege and benefit, which seems to me to be a balance between the two instincts Levin and Brooks referred to. So while we are outsiders to these systems based on our lack of direct influence and power within them, we still feel some level of social responsibility to act when they have failed us.

I think the your perspective on trust is so interesting, starting with the wording of being "generous" with trust. I'm not sure why that struck me, maybe it is just the emphasis that trust doesn't just happen, it must be given to people freely. Another point you brought up was the possibility of growing up in a city affecting your perception on trust. I never really thought about that as affect my ability to trust — I was mostly aware of urban-life impacts on my perspective of privilege, diversity, and access to resources. But I wonder if growing up in a city feels more isolating than rural areas where you might know all your neighbors so it's difficult to build trust, or if it's being in proximity to all sorts of working adults who might not have the public's best interest at heart — I'm not sure if you were getting at that, but your sentence did make me wonder.

One point I agree with is that the contrast between the American Dream and reality has had a hand in this "age of disappointment" in our generation. What I find interesting though is your statement, "with our heightened sense of morality and empathy," because I wonder if other generations could characterize us in the same way, or what words they'd use. Personally, while I do agree that perhaps there is greater empathy due to the decline in this "liberalism"/"individualism" mentality, I'm not sure if we do have greater morals, or just different ones. I do agree though that this disappointment is cause by institutions which don't "address the causes that we care about," and I wonder how we could make them listen, without having to "wait our turn"

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