posts 1 - 15 of 38
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 154

Reading to respond to: David Brooks, “America is Having a Moral Convulsion,” The Atlantic, October 5, 2020


David Brooks, a Canadian-born American who is widely regarded as a conservative-leaning moderate New York Times and The Atlantic correspondent, wrote what is a very timely and thought-provoking article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic. He describes a series of historical patterns in which periodic moral convulsions occur, in which people feel “disgusted by the state of society,” “trusts in institutions plummets,” “moral indignation is widespread,” and “contempt for established power is intense.” He then argues that in response, a “highly moralistic generation appears on the scene,” using “new modes of communication to seize control of the national conversation.”


That’s your generation, folks.


Is Brooks right?


Check out his argument in this very readable, very current article. He focuses on social trust. He ponders whether we are experiencing a period of national decline. He tells the story of Valentina Kosieva who has seen more in her 94 years of life than any of us have seen in ours.


This is not a happy article. But it does get you thinking.


So here are the questions I’d like you to address, in response to what you have read here. Be sure to make specific references to the reading.


  • Do you think that people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they do not have trust in—that they instead distrust--society? Why or why not?
  • How do you respond to the question Brooks asks: are we living through a pivot or a decline?
  • When you hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” or as Brooks writes “for centuries, America was the greatest success on earth, a nation of steady progress, dazzling achievement and growing international power,”what do you think?
  • Do you think you have grown up, as Brooks argues, in the “age of disappointment”? Why or why not?
  • Yuval Levin, a political analyst, argues that in high-trust eras, people have more of a “first-person-plural instinct to ask ‘What can we do?’ In a lower-trust era…there is a greater instinct to say, ‘They’re failing us.’ We see ourselves as outsiders to the systems..” Do you agree or disagree? And why?
  • And what do COVID, the killing of George Floyd, have to do with all of this? And what does fear have to do with this?

Finally—and important, as you respond to this prompt, be certain to respond to at least one of your classmates by agreeing, disagreeing or amplifying something that they had to say.

20469154661
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Growing Distrust in America

It does seem like there is currently a lot of distrust in American Society. We keep experiencing events where we are let down by the institutions or leaders that we normally look to for guidance or safety. It seems like Americans have very little faith in the government to do the right thing and it also seems like we have little faith in each other to act in favor of the common good.

Individualism and success in terms of wealth have been ideas pushed on many Gen Zers. Americans are well known for their materialistic culture and how much everything is centered around consumerism. Many Gen Zers have been taught that putting yourself above others is the only way to be successful. Selfishness has been promoted and social distrust is spiking.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I think about how America is extremely commercialized and industrialized. I think about how many of our current political leaders measure greatness in terms of the economy or employment rates. I also think about how greatness and success is not purely in terms of wealth. The divide in our society is increasing. There is social and political unrest. The stability of America is decreasing rapidly.

I do think I have grown up in, as Brooks argues, in the “age of disappointment”. Growing up the headlines on the news were always about school shootings or racial injustice. These events have only increased in frequency as I have grown older. The news or the radio stations have consistently reported how the politicians were corrupt or how we were being misled by our leaders.

The killing of George Floyd and COVID are marking a climax in a pre-existing trend. We feel like we can’t trust fellow Americans because they keep acting in ways that show they are untrustworthy. We can’t trust law enforcement to actually enforce the law. We can’t trust our fellow Americans to put the wellbeing of the general public over their individual wellbeing or freedoms.

I’m unsure whether this is marking a pivot or a decline because I have never experienced any other period in American History when we have gone through something similar.

anonymouse
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Distrust and Disappointment in America

I think distrust in society is causing people to act the way they do. With the divides in this country, it is hard for people to fully trust each other which also leads to distrust in the institutions. Like Brooks said, trust in the country is declining and in turn leads to the instability of our society. The institutions have also shown themselves to not be trustworthy, as there have been signs of corruption and abuse of power. Even though we are in an age of information, there are a lot of different views on the same topic, which leads to confusion and questioning of the truth. Gen Zers have only experienced this declining trust in the government, unless something changes, they will continue this pattern.


I believe that we are in decline and unless society, as a whole, changes, this pattern will continue. As Brooks said, there needs a new order where trust is again bestowed in not only the people but also the government. Seeing how divided the country is right now, it would be hard for everyone to come together to agree on something. There are important issues that this country faces that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Protests around the country show what the new society should encompass.


Agreeing with @20469154661, the phrase “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” just shows how much leaders value the economy and how the economy is used to define greatness. In my opinion, I do not believe that the U.S. is the greatest nation as there are many problems in our country that need to be addressed. I do not think that any nation is better than others. Each nation faces their own challenges. In terms of greatness, there is not a universal definition, which includes everyone’s standard of greatness.


I agree with Brooks that I grew up in the “age of disappointment”. Violence in our country and worldwide are occurring more frequently. There is a constant flow of headlines that talks about school shootings, some form of racial injustice, human right violations around the world, and more. There is a sense of fear wherever we go. I believe with information and continued education about these topics, positive changes would take place.


I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement. In a high trust society, everyone works towards a common good, and there is a moral understanding between everyone. It is a more community based society rather than an individualistic one. In a low trust society, everyone looks out for themselves and what would be best for them. If this harms others, then the trust within the community will continue to deteriorate.


The government’s response to Covid-19 and the killing of George Floyd proves how our institutions failed us. When it comes to the health and safety of our people, there was a trust that the government would do what is best, but this has proved wrong. Over 200,000 lives were lost because Donald Trump downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19. The police department is there to protect, but it has taken numerous innocent lives. Currently, people live in fear of their lives, whether that be from Covid-19 or from public officials. All of these events affect marginalized groups exponentially. There needs to be reforms and change on all levels to create a safe and equal society for everyone.

leafinthewind
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

Confusing Times

I think that a lot of people distrust society and each other. The pandemic has shone a light on many tragic events that otherwise would have been swept under the rug. Police brutality has been brought to light even though it has existed all along. People are feeling more let down than ever by the injustices committed by the police, a group of people we trust with our lives. I agree with @anonymouse that there needs to be reforms made throughout the country in order to promise equality to all people.

A lot of people today have very low expectations of others and that’s really sad.

In the article, we read about a woman named Valentina Kosieva, who survived a lot of hardships in her life. She sheltered some anti-communist soldiers and was nearly killed by the Reds. Her husband was killed in 1937 after he was sent to Siberia by the Soviet police. She ended up as a refugee and her son was killed by Nazis. After World War 2, her people were exiled and since then she has lived a secret life. She has faced an extreme number of tragedies and it is surprising that she survived.

When people say that the US is the greatest nation in the world, I think about all of the faults that are obviously wrong with our country. I still believe that the USA is the best country in the world. Every country has its own faults but people continue to come to the US because of the opportunities that are available to them. Every person sees their home country through rose colored glasses and has some sense of pride. My parents immigrated to the US and made a life for themselves and became very successful. Being the greatest nation does not absolve the US of its faults, it actually emphasizes them. We face these problems every day and it is our job to solve them for ourselves and for others.

I haven’t been alive for a long enough time to tell if we are in a pivot or a decline. You need a wide view to see a large period of time and the trend is not very obvious when looking back. In order to see such a large trend, you have to live through and experience the time in question.

20469154661
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Originally posted by anonymouse on October 13, 2020 22:15

I think distrust in society is causing people to act the way they do. With the divides in this country, it is hard for people to fully trust each other which also leads to distrust in the institutions. Like Brooks said, trust in the country is declining and in turn leads to the instability of our society. The institutions have also shown themselves to not be trustworthy, as there have been signs of corruption and abuse of power. Even though we are in an age of information, there are a lot of different views on the same topic, which leads to confusion and questioning of the truth. Gen Zers have only experienced this declining trust in the government, unless something changes, they will continue this pattern.


I believe that we are in decline and unless society, as a whole, changes, this pattern will continue. As Brooks said, there needs a new order where trust is again bestowed in not only the people but also the government. Seeing how divided the country is right now, it would be hard for everyone to come together to agree on something. There are important issues that this country faces that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Protests around the country show what the new society should encompass.


Agreeing with @20469154661, the phrase “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” just shows how much leaders value the economy and how the economy is used to define greatness. In my opinion, I do not believe that the U.S. is the greatest nation as there are many problems in our country that need to be addressed. I do not think that any nation is better than others. Each nation faces their own challenges. In terms of greatness, there is not a universal definition, which includes everyone’s standard of greatness.


I agree with Brooks that I grew up in the “age of disappointment”. Violence in our country and worldwide are occurring more frequently. There is a constant flow of headlines that talks about school shootings, some form of racial injustice, human right violations around the world, and more. There is a sense of fear wherever we go. I believe with information and continued education about these topics, positive changes would take place.


I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement. In a high trust society, everyone works towards a common good, and there is a moral understanding between everyone. It is a more community based society rather than an individualistic one. In a low trust society, everyone looks out for themselves and what would be best for them. If this harms others, then the trust within the community will continue to deteriorate.


The government’s response to Covid-19 and the killing of George Floyd proves how our institutions failed us. When it comes to the health and safety of our people, there was a trust that the government would do what is best, but this has proved wrong. Over 200,000 lives were lost because Donald Trump downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19. The police department is there to protect, but it has taken numerous innocent lives. Currently, people live in fear of their lives, whether that be from Covid-19 or from public officials. All of these events affect marginalized groups exponentially. There needs to be reforms and change on all levels to create a safe and equal society for everyone.

I agree with @anonymouse. I think that we are in a decline that will continue unless serious changes are made soon in society. I also agree that getting society to come together to agree on something would be very difficult right now considering how divided we are. The longer we wait, the bigger the divide will grow and the harder it will be to get people to unite.

yelloworchids
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

The Great Distrust

I definitely think the distrust towards our society contributes to the way people are acting in this current moment. Americans themselves seem to have lost faith in other Americans and in turn the institutions and authority figures. With the various national divides on the basis of political standing, racial issues and gender disputes, it’s not surprising that people are operating the way they are because they have lost hope in this country. Brooks mentions that marginalized groups are shown to have higher levels of distrust—rightfully so. Those wronged by the systems in place, would be more inclined to feel a great wariness towards those leading our country.


As for Brooks’ question on whether we are living through a pivot or decline, I believe we are on the border of both. Depending on how our government takes action and how effective we are in social change, our future could go both ways. I believe we are living through a pivot in the sense that underrepresented voices are being heard and social movements like BLM are taking storm. We definitely have the potential to better our circumstances if the proper actions are taken to ensure a more united nation. On the other hand, it’s also important to take in consideration the contrasting views shared by different communities and how that could contribute to our decline. Considering the great divides within our country, it is also completely possible for Americans to continue their distrust for the government. As @anonymouse mentions, “it would be hard for everyone to come together to agree on something”, if there are too many disagreements, pertinent issues will never be acknowledged and tended to.


When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I often think of all the blemishes present within our society. Given that my parents immigrated to the U.S. for a better life and better opportunities, I am grateful for all of which the U.S. has provided for them. Growing up in the U.S. however, I can’t say I share the same views as my parents in terms of pride for this country. The U.S. definitely opens up more doors for some individuals in terms of job opportunities and education, but to say that “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, shows a disregard for the other faults prevalent within the nation. Every country has its own problems and there’s no standard as to which nation is the best.


I do think I have grown up in what Brooks considers the “age of disappointment”. With the prevalence of social media usage in recent years, it’s rather difficult to avoid all of the negativity within our country. The recurring headlines of school shootings, terrorism and targeted hate crimes, have caused the youth of today’s world to become numb to these events that they now consider the norm.


I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement on high-trust eras and lower-trust eras. In a society that is more morally conform, it makes sense for individuals within that setting to see themselves as one with the government. When they can trust their leaders, they see themselves as part of a bigger cause that works together to solve their conflicts. However in a distrusting society, people tend to think for themselves from an individualistic standpoint—distanced from authority. If they’re accustomed to a government that consistently wrongs them, they’d be inclined to think that their government is failing them.


COVID and the killing of George Floyd are great examples of how improper responses to national crises could impact the social trust between institutions and citizens. As people panicked amidst the pandemic, Trump continued to downplay the severity of COVID despite multiple warnings from medical professionals. The failure to acknowledge the concerns of the people will reign its repercussions later on.

Fidget
Boston, Massachuesetts, US
Posts: 8

The Forgotten Narrative of Capitalism

Our generation, generation z, is a generation (like they always say) unlike any other. Not only have we grown up in a climate with rising technological wonders, but we have the internet at our fingertips, information, communication, all of it. This has never been seen in any other generation, on this scale. It is weird to not have at least one social media, and since social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram, to name a few, have risen in power with our generation, it has allowed for communication at higher levels. I agree that there is a level of distrust in society, for many reasons, and most of them very valid. It is coming to light that we have been lied to, consistently, for many years, and with the growing amount of news and social media and quicker transmission of information, those things are coming to light, and people are sharing their opinions. It is most comparable, if you are a history nerd such as myself, to the creation of the printing press was made in 1440(in Europe), where information could be spread easily through pamphlets, bypassing the need for human rewriting. By comparison, people no longer have to wait for the newspaper, with Google and other search engines, information and news are at our fingertips, at any moment. People can make plans in minutes, hundreds of people can find out about a planned protest in a matter of hours, even minutes in some cases. People such as myself have a strong distrust in society, and have for many years, past the classic deep state conspiracy theories. I do not believe that the government is in my favor, as an LGBT youth in America. I do not trust the government to protect me, as I think they are working to do the opposite. This is a direct byproduct of the growing technological advancements. Moving onto Brooks' next point, I personally believe that America is in a decline, as it just cannot function on its racist roots, the roots must be pulled out. This country was built on a system made to keep black Americans down, hell, this country was built by black Americans. This country is facing what I believe will happen to all capitalistic countries, the system was not built to last. Sure communism fails, we know that, but do we all realize that capitalism is built to fail also? It may take longer, it may be less obvious at first, but it should be very clear why this country is failing. Capitalism is the selfish economic system, the “work hard and you shall succeed.” Well that simply does not exist in this country. The byproduct of capitalism, where there are a few people who own almost all the wealth in this country, and a large majority who are very poor, with a smaller middle class is exactly like what we study in history, with the pyramid system. America holds itself at such a high standard, of being the country of freedom, when in reality, it is the country where rich white men hold all the power, and gamble people’s entire futures for fun. Capitalism is making a cancer survivor so bankrupt, they wish they had just died of the disease. Capitalism is taking a medicine that diabetic people need to survive, and making a profit off of it. Capitalism is over policing black neighborhoods, because slavery is legal as long as the person is a criminal. I am disappointed in this country, I am disappointed in the great divides of this country, this country is the most divided its been since the civil war. There shouldnt be such a big divide between male and female, gay and straight, CIS and trans, POC and white, rich and poor, democrat and republicans. This is the age of disappointment, where many Americans who have been privileged wake up, and see that this country is nothing but a ghost of what it once was. The housing in my neighborhood, the gentrification, has made me so sad, so bleak of my future. Everything is getting more expensive, whether it be college tuition, housing, food, etc. In the past people would be absolutely assured a nice job, with a nice house. That is not a guarantee anymore. This is not the American dream, as it is so often described as. When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” it nearly makes me want to start laughing, because I just do not see it. This is classic nationalism that this country suffers from, where we are taught and are to believe that we are the superior, and the right. Is it the greatest at making 12% of the country feel unsafe and even in danger around police officers? Is it the greatest at having the most school shootings, and general feelings of being unsafe at school(there is a reason we have lockdown and safe mode drills)? This country is, as I said before, nothing but a whisper of the promise land it once was. After failing nearly every group of people other than straight white men, it is a wonder how this country lasted its 400 years.
yelloworchids
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by leafinthewind on October 14, 2020 00:16

When people say that the US is the greatest nation in the world, I think about all of the faults that are obviously wrong with our country. I still believe that the USA is the best country in the world. Every country has its own faults but people continue to come to the US because of the opportunities that are available to them. Every person sees their home country through rose colored glasses and has some sense of pride. My parents immigrated to the US and made a life for themselves and became very successful. Being the greatest nation does not absolve the US of its faults, it actually emphasizes them. We face these problems every day and it is our job to solve them for ourselves and for others.

I agree with what @leafinthewind mentioned about people seeing their own country through rose colored glasses. It’s not a bad thing to feel a strong sense of patriotism for your own country, but overlooking the imperfections is also detrimental to those affected by these injustices. By saying the U.S. is the best nation, it makes it seem as if we have no internal issues at all. Like what @leafinthewind said “We face these problems every day and it is our job to solve them for ourselves and for others.” You can always emphasize your love for your country but do so while also acknowledging the negatives.

Fidget
Boston, Massachuesetts, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by yelloworchids on October 14, 2020 15:38

I definitely think the distrust towards our society contributes to the way people are acting in this current moment. Americans themselves seem to have lost faith in other Americans and in turn the institutions and authority figures. With the various national divides on the basis of political standing, racial issues and gender disputes, it’s not surprising that people are operating the way they are because they have lost hope in this country. Brooks mentions that marginalized groups are shown to have higher levels of distrust—rightfully so. Those wronged by the systems in place, would be more inclined to feel a great wariness towards those leading our country.


As for Brooks’ question on whether we are living through a pivot or decline, I believe we are on the border of both. Depending on how our government takes action and how effective we are in social change, our future could go both ways. I believe we are living through a pivot in the sense that underrepresented voices are being heard and social movements like BLM are taking storm. We definitely have the potential to better our circumstances if the proper actions are taken to ensure a more united nation. On the other hand, it’s also important to take in consideration the contrasting views shared by different communities and how that could contribute to our decline. Considering the great divides within our country, it is also completely possible for Americans to continue their distrust for the government. As @anonymouse mentions, “it would be hard for everyone to come together to agree on something”, if there are too many disagreements, pertinent issues will never be acknowledged and tended to.


When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I often think of all the blemishes present within our society. Given that my parents immigrated to the U.S. for a better life and better opportunities, I am grateful for all of which the U.S. has provided for them. Growing up in the U.S. however, I can’t say I share the same views as my parents in terms of pride for this country. The U.S. definitely opens up more doors for some individuals in terms of job opportunities and education, but to say that “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, shows a disregard for the other faults prevalent within the nation. Every country has its own problems and there’s no standard as to which nation is the best.


I do think I have grown up in what Brooks considers the “age of disappointment”. With the prevalence of social media usage in recent years, it’s rather difficult to avoid all of the negativity within our country. The recurring headlines of school shootings, terrorism and targeted hate crimes, have caused the youth of today’s world to become numb to these events that they now consider the norm.


I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement on high-trust eras and lower-trust eras. In a society that is more morally conform, it makes sense for individuals within that setting to see themselves as one with the government. When they can trust their leaders, they see themselves as part of a bigger cause that works together to solve their conflicts. However in a distrusting society, people tend to think for themselves from an individualistic standpoint—distanced from authority. If they’re accustomed to a government that consistently wrongs them, they’d be inclined to think that their government is failing them.


COVID and the killing of George Floyd are great examples of how improper responses to national crises could impact the social trust between institutions and citizens. As people panicked amidst the pandemic, Trump continued to downplay the severity of COVID despite multiple warnings from medical professionals. The failure to acknowledge the concerns of the people will reign its repercussions later on.

I agree with what @yelloworchids has said, when discussing "the United States is the greatest nation in the world" in which they write "a disregard for the other faults prevalent within the nation. Every country has its own problems and there’s no standard as to which nation is the best." which really sums up and works with my point about toxic nationalism, I agree.

JGV
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 11

Time to Pivot

Though Brooks has some points regarding the general feeling of the US right now, I think he is fundamentally wrong in most of his arguments. Society is acting in the way it is right now, not because of a distrust in society as a whole, but because the institutions that structure and mold our society are actively failing us everyday. Right now our police system is continuing to fail Black and Brown Americans, as it has been for generations; we as a society didn’t just wake up one morning and decide it was suddenly not to be trusted. We’re currently living in a pivot in the general consensus of what is right and what we will no longer settle with. A United States that has true equality and fairness for its people has been long sought out for, from abolistionists seeking the end of slavery and civil rights activists seeking the right to vote and the end of Jim Crow and segregation. As society evolves the issues that plague us as citizens and residents change, there has never been a perfect moment as Brooks alleges. He claims, “ Society flourished when individuals were liberated from the shackles of society and the state, when they had the freedom to be true to themselves”. When did we all flourish and have freedom to be true to ourselves? Lgbtq+ individuals only recently got the right to marry, voter suppression is real and is suppressing American voices. Just this year there have been several shootings of unarmed black men like George Floyd. The fear and distrust we feel as a society is real because we are faced with the same problems time in and time out.


The statement, “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” is subjective because it depends on an individual's perception on what is great or successful for a nation. Is it equality? Economic growth? World and Trade power? GDP? Education rate?


Brooks thinks that acknowledging the errs in our country and the foundation of racism it was built on isn't fair. The most outlandish thing he said was that, “ In the emerging value system, “privilege” becomes a shameful sin. The status rules flip. The people who have won the game are suspect precisely because they’ve won. Too-brazen signs of “success” are scrutinized and shamed. Equality becomes the great social and political goal. Any disparity—racial, economic, meritocratic—comes to seem hateful”. Our country was founded by white men who wanted to serve their own interests so of course privilege is deeply rooted into the backbone of our country and it needs to be called out. No one is saying white=bad, being white just means you did not start life 10 steps behind everyone else. His statement is the embodiment of privilege, there’s no target or suspect of him because he’s white.


Brooks also thinks that we as the younger generation have grown up in the age of disappointment, and frankly I think that's one of the few things I agree with. I’ve seen the government fail us (locally and on the federal level), the police and fellow Americans, but that doesn’t mean it's unique to my generation. The government failed people of color in the 80s and 90s when my parents were growing up and the police were still corrupt then as well. In some ways I do view myself as an outsider to the system because the system has failed us over and over again and I think it will continue to. The covid-pandemic brought to light our poor healthcare system and who is truly left vulnerable once they fall ill. When there's low trust as Yuval Levin says, it's because people don’t think that doing anything will improve an already fundamentally flawed system.

JGV
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 11

Some truth to Brooks' words

Originally posted by yelloworchids on October 14, 2020 15:38

COVID and the killing of George Floyd are great examples of how improper responses to national crises could impact the social trust between institutions and citizens. As people panicked amidst the pandemic, Trump continued to downplay the severity of COVID despite multiple warnings from medical professionals. The failure to acknowledge the concerns of the people will reign its repercussions later on.

I agree that they are perfect examples of how improper actions were taken in response to servere issues. About the covid pandemic I'd like to add a quote from Brooks, "You can blame Trump or governors or whomever you like, but in reality this was a mass moral failure of Republicans and Democrats and independents alike. This was a failure of social solidarity, a failure to look out for each other". Though most his arguments are flawed ths statement about how its partially everyone's fault is a little true. If everyone, regardless of the goverments restrictions or lack thereof had done their duty to society by not infecting others and wearing a mask at all times, I think we would be a lot farther into our recovery as a nation than we are now. Morals had a big role in it because lots of people prioritized their own selfish needs instead of the greater good and public health.

madagascar
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

America The Not So Great

I think that people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they distrust society. I think a really important quote that Brooks said to prove this point was that “People become trusting when the world around them is trustworthy.” I definitely don’t think that the world is a trustworthy place, especially not in these times. After reading this article it has brought my own personal distrust to light. All of my life I have had very little trust and hope in the government and in other people, but never knew how to put it into words like Brooks did. I do believe that we are living through a decline just because of how chaotic everything is right now. Our president is a lying borderline facist, we are in a global pandemic that seems to be getting worse everyday, and the tension and polarization between political views is at an all time high. I certainly don’t see how anyone could call this a pivot.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I chuckle. I was raised by a very non-patriotic family , and I have never considered the United States to be an important part of my identity, therefore I have a huge bias here. With all due respect I disagree with @Leafinthewind when they said “Every person sees their home country through rose colored glasses and has some sense of pride.” I think that for many young people it is in fact the opposite. Quite frankly it’s a bit of an embarrassment to say I live in this country with all that is happening now. Despite being a first generation American, I still don’t think of the US in the way that it was thought of in the early 1900’s: streets paved with gold and opportunities. Yes, my parents immigrated here and are somewhat successful. No, the United States is not the only place that this could have occurred. Anyone can be successful anywhere with enough money. I think that so many Americans have an unrealistic sense of pride and superiority when it comes to this country. Just like @fidget said, “This is a classic nationalism that this country suffers from, where we are taught and are to believe that we are the superior, and the right.” The amount of patriotism that the United States has is far more than in most other countries. Only in more authoritarian countries do school children have to pledge allegiance to the flag and learn the national anthem. It’s quite interesting to see.

I definitely think I have grown up in the “age of disappointment”. I totally agree with what @20469154661 said when they said, “Growing up the headlines on the news were always about school shootings or racial injustice.” How are we as the new generation, so to say, supposed to be trustful of anyone or anything when this is the world we grew up in? When young Black boys have to be taught to respect the police and hope for the best to not get murdered. When swastikas and slurs are scribbled on desks as a way of “humor”. When so many teenagers are suicidal with no hope?

I agree with Levin. There is a big distinction between groups and everything is so polarized nowadays. I think that many people, especially far left leaning people see themselves as outsiders to the system. Just like Brooks said, “higher trust nations have lower economic inequality, because people feel connected to each other…” With such divisions amongst ourselves, how can we bond together and feel empowered? Yes, there is empowerment and community within groups such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+, however this is nowhere near the entire population. There is also the fact that with differing opinions comes extreme hatred. I will admit to completely disregarding and labeling people with far more extreme ideas than mine as “illegitimate”. I stay away from people who support All Lives Matter or Trump, and this very much creates a “us versus them” scenario.

Just like Brooks said, the pandemic had the opportunity to pull all of us closer- like it did in Denmark- but it failed. The government is supposedly supposed to keep us safe, yet over 200 thousand people have died from COVID 19 due to the lack of responsibility from our leaders. The killing of George Floyd after 4 months of quarantine really angered people. They began to realize that no one is safe, especially not minorities. I think that aside from being angry, we are scared, or at least I know I am.


goob
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

Growing Apart in America

I believe that people right now are indeed acting as they are because they distrust society. The article reiterates again and again that American institutions have failed us during times of need, whether it be during the COVID-19 pandemic or through police brutality. As Vallier states in the article, “trust levels are a reflection of the moral condition of a nation at any given time.” After we have realized the lack of rightful initiative by our government during several crises, such as the Iraq War and the election of Donald Trump, many of us have become explosively distrustful of our society. Furthermore, several groups of America’s marginalized groups, such as Black Americans, the working poor, and young people have the most distrust in our society as a result of what they’ve experienced in our country. How are they supposed to rely on each other and America overall when they’ve been let down time and time again economically, socially, and even physically? Thus, it is hard to determine whether our nation will ever become as cohesive as it once was during the 1900’s.


Based on these reasons, we are indeed living through a decline. Not only do we ourselves fail to trust those around us, there is no faith in our institutions to successfully run our nation. In 2014, a social survey from the University of Chicago found that “only 30.3% of Americans agreed that ‘most people can be trusted’.” This statistic is quite alarming. The current lives of Americans today are filled with instability, whether it is constantly questioning what others think of them, finding our own identity, or even trusting the leaders in main American organizations. This growing suspicion especially among Gen Z, coupled with the many examples that the American government often fails to do the right thing, are the main reasons why I believe our nation is living through a decline. Having trust is the core of a successful nation, which is what we desperately lack as of right now.


In response to @leafinthewind, I do agree that “A lot of people today have very low expectations of others and that’s really sad”. The majority of modern citizens are unable to rely on each other because of the focus on individualism and also major failures of our institutions. It is difficult to trust each other when we as a nation ignored our opportunity to come together during the pandemic. It is because of this distrust that many of us are afraid to take risks, since we prefer to seize the blanket of security in whatever situation possible.

Honestly, I don’t believe that “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” for a second. Sure, we’ve had some great achievements in the past and are prominent economically , but we as a society are failing right now. Our values might be the opposite of the mindset of the Baby Boomer generation, rather focusing on social justice and equality, but our inability to work together as a nation suggests the contrary. We have failed to put our community first, since we have been so used to merely looking out for ourselves. For instance, Americans were extremely lenient and did not take the severity of the pandemic seriously. Instead, on June 20, “500,000 people went to reopened bars and nightspots in Los Angeles County alone.” We prioritized personal freedom over the collective safety of our nation, hence making the statement that “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” invalid.


I do believe that I grew up in, as Brooks argues, “the age of disappointment”. The news has become a constant bearer of tragedy, whether it is relaying the events of police brutality, school shootings, or the negative effects of social media. I myself don’t think I’ve seen the benefits of the globalized economy, but rather the divisions of classes it has resulted in. My generation was raised as witnesses to the privileged remaining privileged, the constant comparisons to each other, and various events depicting the systemic racism that is prevalent in our country today. Instead of security, we are surrounded by fear and chaos.


In response to Yuval Levin’s statement, I agree with his claims. High-trust areas, such as Sweden or China, have citizens who trust each other and uphold a shared moral understanding in their respective societies. Since their institutions were fast to respond to crises such as the pandemic, they have no reason to distrust their government and those around them. As a result, they tend to think of responding as a community instead of as individuals. However, in lower-trust areas, the lack of initiative by their institutions fosters growing distrust and lack of security among the people. Hence, these people feel alienated because they are not protected by the government of the very country they live in, leaving them to think that “they’re failing us” instead of thinking as a collective.

As I’ve mentioned before, these ideas relate to COVID and the killing of George Floyd because they exemplify the failure of our institutions to rightfully act. Our administration failed to take the severity of the pandemic seriously and we the people have also stopped prioritizing the health of the community. Americans are left with the mindset that “everyone must fend for themselves”. Also, the killing of George Floyd escalated these moral convulsions, as it was the final straw in exposing our corrupt government. How are we supposed to trust these institutions to rightly lead our people if these same organizations are failing to protect its citizens and indict those who have committed an obvious crime? As a result, such events have bred immense fear among Americans, further feeding into the distrust and chaos that is currently present in our nation.

muumihalit
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 6

Hopefully a Pivot, And Not a Decline

I think people distrust society right now because of the constant flow of news of violence and injustice. I believe people are trying to change and improve society because they think it has many faults. I agree with @yelloworchids that we are at the border of a pivot and a decline. A pivot because of the traction many movements are gaining, but a possible decline depending on what leaders and government decide to do about certain issues: for example is COVID-19 going to kill thousands more people or will the government adopt a model to prevent this? Will the government legislate laws to protect Black Americans and end police violence, or will they ignore the injustices occurring? Like @yelloworchids said, our division could also contribute to our decline. I agree with this, as America seems to be becoming increasingly divided, both in politics and views, but also in general society: we live in an individualistic meritocracy where you are supposed to work on your own, for the benefit of yourself only, instead of having a community or system to help you. When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I think that we have to stop putting ourselves above others. We may have some features that are better than other countries, but we need to eliminate the attitude that we are the greatest. I think it infringes on our ability to recognize that we still need improvement. America may have been founded on “great” values, but they were not executed in the right way. Although it may have been successful for some, it has grossly failed others. @20469154661 said “I think about how many of our current political leaders measure greatness in terms of the economy or employment rates”. This is a new idea that I agree with, especially since many politicians seem to prioritize the economy over the people’s well being, for example Donald Trump focusing on the economy instead of the safety of the American people. In terms of the “age of disappointment” I agree that there is a feeling that everywhere you look there is a problem. @yelloworchids said something interesting: “With the prevalence of social media usage in recent years, it’s rather difficult to avoid all of the negativity within our country. The recurring headlines of school shootings, terrorism and targeted hate crimes, have caused the youth of today’s world to become numb to these events that they now consider the norm.” I agree with some of this in that there are so many bad things that we hear about on the news, that something like the hysterectomies in ICE detention centers would have made national headlines in a time unlike this. But now it’s just another exposed atrocity of America, which are too numerous that it wasn’t as shocking. I agree that when there is higher trust, people have more faith in systems and continuously want to improve them, while when there is lower trust, as government and systems constantly fail people, they begin to think of themselves as separate from authority. I think many people now see themselves as separate from the government because of the handling of COVID, which they oppose, but I also agree with @JGV that it is the fault of everyone that put themselves before others, in addition to the administration’s handling of the virus. I think lots of Americans are fearful now, especially with the election so soon. Because so much is at stake with this election - how COVID will be dealt with, will marginalized peoples continue to have rights? One thing I was shocked at from the article was that “Half of all Fox News viewers believe that Bill Gates is plotting a mass-vaccination campaign so he can track people”, which is an example of how Brooks said that when there is more distrust, people are more likely to believe conspiracy theories.

dennis12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Should We Trust our Country?

I feel that people are distrusting society now more than ever, including myself because of everything that is happening in our country especially with racial injustices and the pandemic. With the pandemic, there are many people who refuse to wear a mask because they feel it violates their constitutional rights while they are instead risking their lives and other people’s lives. College students are also another factor because a lot of young people refuse to stop partying because they do not care if they get the virus or not since they are so young. With racial injustices, we notice many injustices in our society such as systemic racism and police brutality and we see that justice is not brought to the people who are suffering because of these issues. I agree with @leafinthewind when they say that people are let down when police officers aren’t held accountable to their actions because we are supposed to trust them while they are using violence and commiting horrible crimes including murder. Many people are extremely racist and homophobic and do not believe that people of color and people in the LGBTQ+ community deserve to be treated equally and all of these injustices makes everyone lose our trust in society to support basic human rights and stand against injustices.

When Brooks asks “What kind of nation have we become?” I agreed with the question because my generation has grown up during a horrible time in history which requires immediate change but under Trump, this change will not occur. Another question Brooks had asked was “Are we living through a pivot or decline?” and I believe that we are in a mixture of both because with such issues as climate change, I am not sure if we are able to fix the damage we have caused because leaders of our country and many American people have ignored the problem for a long time so I believe that climate change is declining. I believe that with racial injustices we may be at a pivot because people are becoming educated and mad by all the injustices and we demand change. If we continue to use our voices and protest then we might be able to create change but I also believe that we are somewhat in a decline with racial injustices because other people are against Black Lives Matter and take away from this movement, so I believe that we are both at a pivot and decline. This is why I do believe that I have grown up in Brooks “age of disappointment” because people have been fighting for equal rights for a long time and we are finally able to create change while some people do not want change and do not believe that black and white people should be equal and are so hateful towards people of color and it is extremely disappointing.

I enjoyed learning about Valentina Koiseva and how she had experienced some horrific events in her life because she grew up during World War Ⅱ and the Holocaust. Valentina had to experience the death of her husband and son which must have been so traumatic and she had to live under a secret identity in order to live free. It is scary to hear testimonies of people who have survived the Holocaust because it was such a horrific event in history where people did not deserve to be killed only because of religion. It is similar to America’s past and present where Black people are killed and discriminated against only because of their skin color. When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I never agree with it although America is more advanced and I am very lucky to be born here but there needs to be change in our country starting with our president.

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