posts 31 - 38 of 38
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

The weight on Gen Z

I definitely think that our generation (Gen Z) has an overwhelming amount of responsibility compared to other generations and we have to be way more involved at a younger age in what is going on right now. Between living through a pandemic and a ticking clock before climate change is irreversible, we young people have to take more initiative because our future is the one at stake. I think social media has made a big contribution to more activism and has been able to make more voices heard which is unlike what any other generation has had. George Floyd is a big example of this because it was the widespread video on social media that sparked the BLM movement and it brought a lot of people together to fight for justice. I feel like people are distrusting to society especially right now because America is not doing the greatest job at controlling the pandemic and because of that there is rising skepticism towards the government. When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I think there’s too much nationalism and pride. We have so many flaws in the system: police brutality, systematic racism, a huge economic gap between the rich and the poor, etc. We are far from the greatest nation. I agree with @yelloworchids on whether we’re living through a pivot or decline because we are repeating history and we have a lot of distrust, but our generation is the most diverse and progressive so I have faith that we will make change

Posts: 12


I think that a growing amount of people are operating the way they are because they are starting to distrust our current society. Our nation has been alive for hundreds of years and we learn throughout our youth the proud and great history of our country. However, for the most part, the younger generations of today do not see that greatness. People see that the whole nation is divided. They are starting to not trust the government because so many things have not changed within the last decade. Movements like BLM have started years ago, yet little to no improvement by the government have been made to combat police brutality. Furthermore, Brooks’ argument that minorities usually have higher levels of distrust is agreeable. This is because minorities are the ones who will be more likely to continuously experience the unfortunate parts of our nation.

Personally, I think that whether we are living in a pivot or decline will be determined by the presidential election results. I think so because I do not remember another time period in my life where the act of voting has been preached all over the media. Whether it’s athletes or companies, people are telling one another to vote. More people are putting their trust on the vote in order to hope for change on the national level. If Trump somehow wins, then a decline will further occur.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I absolutely disagree. This is not to say the United States is a terrible country. As Americans, we have it better than a majority of everyone else on Earth with our way of life. However, in the group of developed nations, everyone else has matched and possibly surpassed the United States. Other nations have things like universal healthcare and capable leaders. Over in the US, we currently don't have that.

I do think that I have “grown up” in the “age of disappointment”. I think so because you can’t go on social media or the internet without hearing something going on with our country When people are striving for social justice, it will be shared to the point most people will hear about it. Due to the “disappointment”, more people are becoming activists and striving to reverse that disappointment.

I agree with Levin’s argument and @anonymouse’s answer. To further expand on @anonymouse’s answer, people in a high-trust society will more likely involve themselves for a common good. This is because their governments and institutions keep their promises. When people see this, they have more hope for change and want to help in order to increase that change. People in a low-trust society will only look after themselves and blame the government because society doesn’t have much positive things going on for them. People need someone to blame, and would rather blame the government than themselves for putting leaders in their position.

COVID and the killing of George Floyd relate to this because it puts to light on all the negative aspects of our society. The cause points at Trump and his administration. People see that in light of a deadly disease, the president made it seem like it wasn’t that bad. They see that he failed to set up parameters to limit the spread of COVID. People also see that Trump didn’t do anything useful in response to the killing of George Floyd. The inability of Trump to lead during times of crisis causes many people to distrust. Many fear that if this were to continue, the nation will continue to be further divided.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10


I am not saying that there is no distrust amongst our society, but I feel like using the word “society” pins this situation onto the average person. I don’t think people operate in this moment because of their distrust in the average Joe. Rather, the distrust truly lay within our government—the people who are supposed to lead our country. Brooks states, “In high-trust societies, corruption is lower and entrepreneurship is catalyzed. Higher-trust nations have lower economic inequality, because people feel connected to each other and are willing to support a more generous welfare state.” To me, this quote seems like Brooks is really missing the point. Society’s trust is contingent upon the stability of the foundation that the government lay for its people. So, no, I don’t think that people are operating now because they distrust society, but rather the people who are failing at leading us well.

Brooks sounds really cringey when he gets into his “pivot or decline” argument. He delves into his argument by claiming that America is on a “decline,” and that “renewal is hard to imagine.” I think he’s truly missing the big picture here. We live in such a small portion of history’s timeline, that there is inevitably going to be a time when America evolves from this rut. This isn’t a decline to me. Rather, it is a time when Americans are facing harsh realities and decisions—one after the other. But it is a necessary evil if we ever want to see change and equity amongst the nation. Secondly, I would like to point out that Brooks started off this piece by speaking of “convulsions” that occur every 60 years in America. His argument that we are in a decline sort of contradicts his entire introduction statement. We are not declining, but convulsing, changing, evolving—pivoting.

“For centuries, America was the greatest success on earth, a nation of steady progress, dazzling achievement and growing international power.” For whom was this success built for? The slaves? The Native Americans? Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned during WW2? When I read this line, I can’t help but think that Brooks is stuck in a bubble of privilege. Yes, America does have a strong military and education system, but nothing is pristine when you take a closer look. America was and still is riddled with racism, corruption, homelessness, and capitalist extremes. I understand Brooks’s view, but they are terribly skewed toward the privileged.

I don’t think I have grown up in the “Age of Disappointment.” Like I said, we live in a small fragment of history, and there have definitely been worse things to have happened to Americans… In fact, I am not disappointed at all. I am truly happy that America is finally biting the bullet and confronting these internalized challenges for the sake of societal growth. It takes a lot of strength to do that—to question authority and amplify the voices of those who are struggling. I am proud of this movement, but I am disappointed in Brooks for viewing these evolvements as “disappointments.”

I do agree with @yelloworchids that social media has amplified the effects of societal problems, but I believe that they are also missing a point: yes, social media is the bearer of bad news, but it also bears our nation’s ability to unite with and educate one another. Having these taboo discussions and being able to hear about strangers’ stories and gripes with the government is what truly defines this era of America. This isn’t something to be ashamed of. This is a blessing that no generation has ever seen before.

I disagree with Yuval Levin. Right now, I see that people are readily taking action by protesting, signing petitions, and educating themselves about social affairs. Yet, there is still so much distrust within our government. Just because there is distrust, does not mean that society will idle around, waiting for there to be change. People are already making changes by taking things into their own hands—by becoming leaders themselves. Yes, I will admit that it is undeniably easier to want to see the betterment of society when there is a mutual trust between oneself and the government, but things are still happening. There is just very little trust between Us and the government.

COVID and the killing of George Floyd are what I like to consider “vibe checks.” I agreed with Brooks when he said that people started easing on quarantining, even though the vast majority of Americans were in support of staying home. These two things are pretty much defining moments of 2020. They showed us the true colors of our friends, family, the government, and ourselves. They showed the privilege that lives amongst us, but also the anger and internalized racism within government positions. They’ve shown the flaws that riddle our leaders, but they’ve also exemplified the immense strength and unity we have as individuals to push against adversities and emphasize the need for change. Brooks is a cynic. He is making things out to seem like it’s the end of the world. But to me, and for many other POC, this seems to be the start of something good for us.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 17

Distrust in Today's Society

I think that at this moment many people distrust their society and feel the need to speak up. Even during a global pandemic, people have to risk their lives to protest for their basic human rights. Many people protest and speak up about the injustices because they don’t have faith and don’t trust the government and authoritative figures they live under and the society they live in. When people don’t believe that their authoritative figures will speak up for them, they have to protest and show that their voice needs to be heard, so the government and authoritative figures have no choice but to listen. trust. When Brooks says in the article, “But trust can be rebuilt through the accumulation of small heroic acts”, I definitely agree with this. When people go to the streets to protest, they don’t want documentaries and laws named After Breonna Taylor, they want real reform and change, not performative activism.

When Brooks presents the question of “are we living through a pivot or decline, I would answer a decline. Although I know there has been many progressive reforms in this period of time, they do not balance out with the huge problems we face in America today. In a broad sense, American companies are having trouble competing in world markets, the health system is failing its citizens, and the gap between the rich and poor. I think that one of the huge contributors to the decline of today’s society is the inequalities many people face on a day to day basis. Whether is their school not providing a sufficient education or the huge racial inequality people face when discriminated against. For some people, they could say they are living in a pivotal moment, but when brought down to the surface America is not the great country it is painted out to be. When I hear Brooks talks about the United States and how it is “the greatest nation in the world”, I definitely disagree with this statement. By ignoring and invalidating the deep rooted problems in the US and instead, talking about all the achievements to show that the US is the best, it just shows how some people don’t really care about the problems. This also makes me think of Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” because of course America has it’s achievement but America is only seen the best in some people’s eyes and has not been great and has never been for many minorities.

I think I have grown up in the age of disappointment. I think this because as Brooks mentioned, we have grown up in a time where we have little to no trust in our government. For starters, I feel that many younger people are beginning to speak up for the future we want, but instead our voices are silenced because we are “too young” or not educated enough on these topics. The course of this election will affect our future whether we like it or not, so it hurts more than Gen Z voices will be accounted for in the election, whereas votes of people who still believe in the racist “Old American values” will be accounted for. What Yuval Levin said about how we see ourselves as outsiders to the system, I believe this to be true. When the authoritative figures, who are supposed to be representing the people, are not listening to the needs of the people or when all the authoritative figures share all the same views, we live in a society that i s swayed by those figures. In a time where many people distrust their society, it is fueled by the way their society and government has handled issues poorly. For COVID, we saw that numbers of cases aren’t decreasing and that the protective measures needed to help the decrease of cases were not enforced by “our own '' president. In the panic of a global pandemic, seeing how poorly the US has handled the cases in comparison to other countries and seeing how scientific knowledge is invalidated and the severity of COVID is downplayed, I am not surprised at the distrust. With the killing of George Floyd and countless other victims, the distrust stems from the government’s inability to change their laws and try to reform. Many people have protested and fought for their basic human rights, but their efforts have been stomped on by news outlets and riots not started by the protesters. At this moment many people fear the consequences of COVID and fear how the injustices in America will keep continuing with no end. In fear, people look towards their peers and society to make change and deal with the problems head on. When their fears and needs are not heard by the government, who is supposed to be helping us and representing us, it is a no brainer that people distrusts today’s society.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 17

Reply to greenbeans

Originally posted by greenbeans on October 15, 2020 06:59

I disagree with Yuval Levin. Right now, I see that people are readily taking action by protesting, signing petitions, and educating themselves about social affairs. Yet, there is still so much distrust within our government. Just because there is distrust, does not mean that society will idle around, waiting for there to be change. People are already making changes by taking things into their own hands—by becoming leaders themselves. Yes, I will admit that it is undeniably easier to want to see the betterment of society when there is a mutual trust between oneself and the government, but things are still happening. There is just very little trust between Us and the government.

Although I agree with what Yuval Levin said, your response gave me a different perspective that I haven't thought about. I said that we do feel disconnected and as outsiders because when people protest and try to call for reform and change, most times our voices are silenced. I do agree with what you said though, and I feel like your perspective has a more optimistic approach versus Levin's. I like what you said about how even though there is distrust, our society does not stand our idle, and how we become leaders ourselves.

the negotiator
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Distrust and Disunification

I feel that many people have a deep distrust in society at the moment. I understand this because it is difficult to have trust in a nation with decreasing unity. The United States is in a decline; there is no denying that. The people of the United States feel that the authoritative figures of our nation are not speaking out against long time issues that are just now being brought to light for many, leading to many protests. Many authoritative figures are also seeming corrupted and seem to be abusing power. These protests fuel the distrust more and are pushing for positive changes in our nation so that we may be truly unified. Recent enlightenment of long term issues has caused there to be instability in our nation.

On the grander scale, I feel that we are living through a pivot, but in the current moment we are in decline. Our nation is extremely divided right now, but I believe that we will hit a point sometime in the future where significant positive changes are beginning to be made for our nation. Hopefully, it will only get better from there. Although Brooks thinks it is just sheer decline, saying, “I’ve spent my career rebutting the idea that America is in decline, but the events of these past six years, and especially of 2020, have made clear that we live in a broken nation,” I believe that at some point, there will be nowhere to go but up, and I hope we do sooner rather than later. I also believe this because of the strength of my generation. Throughout the past years, I have seen way more activism speaking out for what is right from younger people than from other generations. The people in my generation will be the ones who make real change.

When I hear the phrase “the United States is the greatest nation in the world,” I am conflicted. When I hear this statement I think of all that is wrong with our country. I believe that it depends on how you define greatest. Our nation has many faults, and I feel that saying that it is the “greatest” puts disregard on those faults. Sure our nation is known for being the “land of opportunity,” but to what extent is that true? For many people this is true and they do create a better life for themselves in our nation, but there are also stories of those who could not make it in our nation because of the difficulties put on them for who they were. I feel that there is no standard of what makes a nation great; all nations should strive for betterness no matter what.

I agree with Brooks that I grew up in the “age of disappointment.” In today’s society we feel like we don't have a voice. All the decisions that are being made for the people of our nation are being made by people in power, many of whom fail to represent the people well and do what is in the best interest of the people. Also, there has been an increase in violence in our nation and all around the world, and we are also in a time where human rights are a debate, which is just awful.

I agree with what Yuval Levin said. In a high-trust era, there is more unity and understanding between the people and it is easy for them to work together for what is right and what is good for the people. In a lower-trust era, people only look out for themselves and are very self centered. This also allows for the authorities to have a tighter grasp on the people and not conform to what they want, because they are all speaking for themselves instead of as a whole. This in turn would cause trust to decrease even more.

The response from our government to COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd simply furthers the point of how the authorities are failing us. COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of people and you would think that the government would do something more significant about it, but this has been proven to be wrong. As for the killing of George Floyd, it shows how corrupt our police system is, to the point that they kill people who are unarmed and not threatening anyone. These recent horrific events speak volumes as to what our nation’s true priorities are, because they clearly aren’t the health and safety of the people.

the negotiator
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by Earl Grey Tea on October 14, 2020 20:53

I think the lack of trust that exists in American society today has affected the ways people are operating in this moment. I’m not surprised after seeing all the data Brooks presented proving that American society is becoming increasingly distrustful. America is divided right now, and misinformation is being thrown around left and right. It’s almost impossible to know what to trust from the media. We’ve also understandably learned to be cautious in listening to what powerful politicians have to say, not just Trump. Perhaps this is a good caution to have, but it nevertheless leads to our society being a low-trust society. We’ve also learned that high-trust societies like China have statistically handled the pandemic much better than low-trust societies like us because they are willing to quickly sacrifice something of their own for the common good, trusting that everybody else will do that same.

So much is happening in the present that I sometimes forget there will also be a future. Brooks asked a very open ended question in his article: Are we living through a pivot or a decline? I agree with what @yelloworchids said: “Depending on how our government takes action and how effective we are in social change, our future could go both ways.” I think this is why the coming election is being called one of the most important, if not the most important, election in our country’s history. Whoever we have in charge has a great deal of influence over the country, and I think we’re in a very fragile state right now where we can either crumble or come back stronger than ever. The push for social and racial justice in movements like Black Lives Matter is only getting fiercer the longer we ignore it.

It’s difficult to blare out my pride for the U.S. when I know that, although our country has had many achievements, we are at our core a jumble of systems and institutions that work amazingly for some people, but are just more of a maze for many others. It’s especially hard in a time like now, or the climax of this moral convulsion as Brooks puts it. George Floyd has certainly become a symbol of a society where no people, especially black people, are safe.

I do think I have grown up in the “age of disappointment,” a crisis of faith and trust. We are beginning to see that many things that were set up for our generation turned out to be detrimental- a globalized economy that hurts the working class, the internet which pulls us apart more than it brings us together, and a trust in privileged people that limits the opportunities of others. We constantly hear about hate crimes, shootings, and police brutality. Depression and suicide rates are far more common than they should be.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s argument that people in high-trust eras are far more willing to help out, while people in low-trust eras are quick to place blame on their system. It is strange to picture how such a society works, since I’ve lived here most of my life; we are outsiders to those systems. Certainly, Levin’s argument came to life when the pandemic hit and high-trust societies did much better than low-trust societies in handling it. China, one of the best examples, is back to normal now because the citizens and the government alike came to a strict agreement and trusted each other. In this case, they were asking, “What can we do?” In America, not only do many of us not trust the president all that much, he also doesn’t trust many of us in return. Some of us trust CDC guidelines; some of us don’t. We won’t trust everything our family and friends tell us, just in case. Now, America has arguably done the worst job in the world at handling COVID.

COVID and the killing of George Floyd have marked the climax of this moral convulsion. We’re living through a perfect storm- a pandemic, an amplified outcry for systemic change, and a failure of leadership. These events are the height of any tensions building up in the past ten years. Many people have reasons to be afraid. For example, black people and many others disproportionately affected by COVID have a right to be afraid, and it almost seems as if our president is monopolizing on this fear. We need different leadership if we want to see a pivot instead of a decline.

I agree strongly with the point you made about how we are cautious to fully trust our current politicians. Even though a low-trust society seems to have a negative connotation around it, it’s hard to imagine the people in American putting full trust into the government. I also liked how you brought up China, which has a high-trust society, to counter a low-trust one. It put into perspective how different they are and the benefits and consequences of both.

Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 10

The American Mess

Even before reading this article, I knew there was something wrong about America. Some kind of disconnect between people that now after reading this article has boiled down to a simple topic; that people don't trust each other anymore. We have generally accepted this; people lie, everyone is out to get you, you can only trust yourself, and you have to look out for yourself. When writing it like this, It makes society seem disappointing, which after reading this article, it seemed like it was.

I personally think we are living through a decline. Our government has been the center of distrust for a while now, even if I personally trusted the last president, I know that many in this country do not. Today, I do not trust our government to do the right thing because it seems like it rarely does. Although this country has so many powerful movements protesting and fighting for social justice, it took slow decline to get here. There was no turning point. Maybe there will be a switch someday to bring us back to the numbers of trust we had decades ago, but for now, especially in 2020, things just keep going down. Movements like Black Lives Matter, despite being a meaningful movement, makes me feel like we still haven't gotten anywhere to give people basic rights. Police shootings show me that even law enforcement officers make their choices based on trust, which we have none of.

I agree with a lot of things that @peguinsintherain said about the United States of America. I understand why people would have pride in their country, but honestly, I don't see it for America. I think that America used to be a role model country. Maybe not ideal or even close to perfect, but the freedom our country represented was a great success in parts of the 20th century. I also think that today, if you have pride in our country, your either nostalgic or disregarding the obvious flaws we have. Almost every group of people other than white christian males face some kind of oppression and inequality. I do have pride in aspects of our country such as our ability to get a majority of people basic human needs, which is much better than other countries, but we are behind other well developed nations in so many things, our country and government can often feel like an embarrassment.

I think that I have grown up in the "age of disappointment" due to the prominence of social media. Almost every problem we see has been laid out in front of us, and just scrolling through the political side of instagram and reading the comments is disappointing. Watching our government is the same kind of thing. Our government just continues to ignore issues, one after the other. It's disappointing.

I partly agree with Yuval Levin. Right now, in a period of high trust, this is exactly what is happening. People feeling failed by the industries that make up our country. However, I believe that a good person should always think "what can we do." Even if you feel like the government is failing you, you should always ask what can we do and think of a way to fix it

All these current events just continue the roll down the hill. COVID strengthened our disconnect and mistrust of people to do the right thing. The killing of George Floyd just strengthened the mistrust we have in the government and law enforcement to protect us. Fear just encapsulated these issues. Fear makes us think about only ourselves and disregard others for our own safety. In the end, America right now is less like a mess and more like a downward spiral thats just getting faster.

posts 31 - 38 of 38