posts 16 - 30 of 38
softballgirl18
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 21

The Year of Change

I believe this year is definitely going to be one for the history books. With each month bringing something new and challenging, I also believe our generation is going to make a change. As someone mentioned, they think this is just the beginning of a long decline and I agree but I have to disagree that this year is just the beginning.

I think at this moment people are living their lives in fear of the virus, which is very reasonable, as I am doing the same thing. I think we as a society have so little trust in those who are supposed to be leading us that we no longer know what to believe, which is not how a world should work. In the article, it says During most of the 20th century, through depression and wars, "Americans expressed high faith in their institutions. In 1964, for example, 77 percent of Americans said they trusted the federal government to do the right thing most or all of the time.", and if we were to do another census today, that number would drastically drop, and I mean drastically.

In conclusion, I believe that 2020 isn't just the year of fear, its the year in which the world will change and I think we will make it change for the better

graphicmango
Posts: 24

Reply to Junior

Originally posted by Junior on October 14, 2020 20:09

It seems like historians' favorite thing to do is organize periods of history into themes and rules. Perhaps that's a human feature, I don't think it matters. I am one of those historians/humans, but I don't put serious credence in the idea. Perhaps there is a science to humans in the same way there's a science to the fact that salmon will always swim upstream to lay their eggs, but I doubt that's something humans will ever learn. We would need to put aside all bias to achieve such an empirical truth, and I believe that if a human were to put aside all bias they would cease to be human. Rather superhuman, or perhaps inhuman.
Regardless of whether this is happening as some sort of pattern - as if it would've been unbelievable or impossible if this hadn't happened 30 years ago as well- there is certainly a decline occurring. An economist could tell you that, a climate scientist could tell you that, and any person who didn't sacrifice their eyes, ears and brain to conservatism would know that.

The United States has never been exceptional. It's certainly done great things, but to call it the greatest nation on earth is a farce. The United States is less than 250 years old, and was unremarkable for 150 of those years. It finally did something incredible in WW2, and then brought the world into the Cold War, a conflict that has crippled dozens of countries to this day. The U.S. kept up with the U.S.S.R., a nation that had existed for less than 25 years by the end of WW2, and brought the world to a standstill. Using german born scientists, they created a weapon that could, and almost has on multiple occasions, bring the end of the world. This is saying nothing of the nation's lackluster civics and ethics. The nation committed genocide, pioneered eugenics, had one of the most oppressive monopolies in human history, and has a human rights violation list longer than some dictionaries. The only thing the United States is exceptional at is excessive use of force. That's the most historically common theme in their history, not freedom or liberty. The first black girl to go to an American public school is in her mid to late sixties. How's that for liberty?

The biggest disappointment of this age is the realization that all of our problems are innate to the American system and way of life. Maybe to the upper middle and upper classes this whole situation is a bit of a shock, but the only thing surprising about our current troubles is that people think they're new.

Hi Junior, I commend your detail in explaining the United States' actual... reputation? Perception from an unbiased point of view? I think a lot of Americans feel an incredible amount of nationalism, which is surprising considering, as you've mentioned, how behind we are in civil liberties. I also find it important to consider the impact that "rugged individualism" and capitalism have had on the United States' psyche. There's a pervasive pressure for us to compete with our peers at every age as well as an idea that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough. This leads to the discrepancy between upper middle to upper class and lower classes' views on the United States' system and way of life. The lower middle class and working poor are looked down upon and their socioeconomic status are assumed to be because they aren't trying hard enough to improve their status. The upper and upper middle classes' self-perception and the continuation of rugged individuality both benefit, and the upper classes will never face the assumptions and disadvantages that come with being in a lower socioeconomic class.

graphicmango
Posts: 24

Reply to SwedishFish

Originally posted by SwedishFish on October 14, 2020 21:31

Originally posted by graphicmango on October 14, 2020 21:24



I do feel that we have grown up in an age of disappointment. Social media and the internet have made communication nearly instantaneous and information, true or false, are more accessible than ever before. Gen Z has the ability to know more than any generation before it and inevitably, being overwhelmed with major international and national occurrences, it’d be hard pressed to find someone who is highly satisfied with their life.


I agree! Social media has definitely brought a lot more attention and information to issues across the globe that I never knew were happening for so long. I have heard many mixed stances on social media, as some may say it has done more harm than good...Where do you stand on this?

It's definitely a double edged sword. While I think it's great that we are the most informed and educated generation, mostly due to our widespread access to news and information, the sheer number of information sources makes it much more difficult to find non-biased and accurate news. I will say that I think our generation is more easily impassioned and inclined to group toward a cause since we can communicate and find information so quickly.

Fireheart
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Is This Who We Are?

The pessimistic side of me wants to say that, yes, we are currently in a state of decline. I’d like to think, however, towards my future and say that, no, we’re making more of a pivot towards progress, and that voice pops up again like, “Do you really think anything significant is going to happen?” At times it feels as though, we’re just going backwards and really undoing all of these “dazzling achievements” that America is known for. Really when anyone even mentions how “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, my first instinct is to scoff. I feel like some people would see that as disrespectful or like I’m not proud to be American, and in some ways, I guess that’s true. I don’t think that that is what America is right now, as much as certain people may push that idea. I see myself as American, and I do have love for this country, but it’s also sort of that tough-love kind of mentality. I feel like we’ve been complacent in recent years and that we’ve allowed so many issues and problems to fester, and it's just now all coming to the surface, all at once. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean that it should be ignored or painted over.

I feel as though I have grown up in this “age of disappointment” so to say, and I’m still growing there now. Like, I don’t remember being as aware when I was younger, which I think a lot of people can understand. But now that I’m older, I’m just realizing, like, “Wow, this isn’t what I thought it would be like” and “I thought we were past this”. I really wasn’t prepared for these realities and it’s more about the world around than myself. When I was growing up, the only time I learned about people or countries other than America, was in a history school in class. All issues and obstacles I’ve faced, can’t even be compared to those of others that I’m just learning about and being made aware of. I really grew up with this limited, circular, view in which all I saw, were the things that affected me and my family in my small bubble of comfort. Getting outside of this bubble was really jarring, but it was also a learning experience for me. I think that a lot of people, like me, were really forced to see how certain groups of people have been unnecessarily facing injustices. I just remember feeling so angry and disappointed with myself, being a person of color, and not really knowing all that was happening in this country the last few years. This past summer was a time of reflection and educating myself, which I think was really necessary.

At the same time, I do have that sort of mentality of ‘They’re failing us.’ I know that there are things that I can do to make change and to play my part in helping to move towards progress. At the same time, I feel very disheartened and discouraged by what I see and I feel as though my actions won’t make much of an impact when it comes to the long run. I agree with @gibby society has sort of lost this trust because the system has failed us so many times. We see these horrible acts of injustice occur with little to no consequence, and it really sets an example and just shows how little care there is for certain people in this country. As much as I’d like to be hopeful for the future, I can’t help but to expect the worst: disappointment.
blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Decline? Sometimes feels like a nosedive.

I'm going to go through all six questions one by one.
Do I think people distrust society? That depends on one's definition of society. I think people do trust smaller societies, like political sub-groups or people who agree with them. But do they believe that the greater society and government has their interests at heart? No. The country is too diverse for it. People just can't trust that the government is doing the right thing some of the time. People have become polarized, and at some point, it feels like (like with the SCOTUS seat) it is more important to win than to do what's right. Lying has become commonplace, and there's not enough unity to bridge the divide anymore.

Are we living in a pivot or a decline? I hope its a pivot, and we are moving towards a place where life is better for everyone, and we can live in a better place than we are right now. But when half of the government is pushing for a return to the "good old days" and the other half wants to move forward, it feels like by staying in the same place, caught between the future and the past, we really are going backwards in comparison to the rest of the world. So while I hope it's a positive pivot forward, its beginning to feel like a nosedive.

Is the USA the greatest nation in the world? No. It isn't. That's just a fact. We were maybe at one time, but other countries have definitely got us blown out of the water.

Have we grown up in the age of disappointment? Yeah, kinda. Life is really rough for people right now, and it tends to always be that way. I feel like if this was on a Strongly Disagree to Strongly agree, I'd be between agree and neutral. I feel like such a sad name makes it feel like there's no hope for life to get better. And I think hope is a very important thing.

Do I see myself as an outsider? Yeah. It feels like when the only way to be heard is by shouting at the top of your lungs and even then you're muffled, it certainly feels like we can't change anything anymore. And that's why hope and voting are important! That's how you change things here.

Do covid and BLM have to do with this? Yes. Seeing the completely unjustified killing of Breonna Taylor, and then her killers walk free definitely feels like we're in a nosedive that is almost inescapable.
mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 23

Brace yourself, this reply is long.

Wow, just wow. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a news article this much in so long. Literally, while reading it, I sent to I’d say 5(?) of my friends this specific quote:


"Finally, social insecurity. In the age of social media our “sociometers”—the antennae we use to measure how other people are seeing us—are up and on high alert all the time. Am I liked? Am I affirmed? Why do I feel invisible? We see ourselves in how we think others see us. Their snarkiness turns into my self-doubt, their criticism into my shame, their obliviousness into my humiliation. Danger is ever present. “For many people, it is impossible to think without simultaneously thinking about what other people would think about what you’re thinking,” the educator Fredrik deBoer has written. “This is exhausting and deeply unsatisfying. As long as your self-conception is tied up in your perception of other people’s conception of you, you will never be free to occupy a personality with confidence; you’re always at the mercy of the next person’s dim opinion of you and your whole deal.”"


It's a quote I can (and I’d assume a lot of other BLS kids additionally) ultimately relate to at the end of the day. Anyway, I should probably answer the questions, and as of writing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if I reference that quote again.


So: distrust? Yeah, it’s high. Personally, I use Apple News and I constantly get notifications on current events, but whenever I see “Fox News,” I can’t help but laugh and think, wow, what will they talk about now? Before 2016, Fox News was somewhat more trusted and respectable. Post 2016? It has been turned into an absolute joke, from SNL, to Trump berating it constantly, to other media sources attacking it. So therefore, I consider it the best example as to how the nation became more distrusting in such a short period of time. This only scrapes the surface of distrust our generation (and millennials) is harboring towards society. Honestly, I’d love to continue the list, but I do have to talk about the other questions, so I’ll hold off on that. But the examples are staggering, and the most obvious is the whole idea of “us, the people, vs. the government.” Seriously. It’s not surprising, seeing the current condition of the nation, proof of which was plastered all over the article as well.


Because of that distrust, I wholly agree that we are declining. In some sense or another, hate or love Trump, he didn’t kill the economy pre-COVID. It still lived and did well. However, come COVID, I’d say (and a lot of people will agree) that he essentially obliterated it by not planning well enough. Again, that only scrapes the surface. That’s just the economy. Politically, as a whole, I’d like to bring up an anecdote. The 2012 presidential election between Obama and Romney. It came up on my YouTube recommended. Kind of hard to tell if that was an alternate timeline to our reality, because compared to the debate last week, I heard agreements? Cordial behavior? Unheard of! That ultimately sums up the political end. On equality? BIPOC and ACAB serve as enough proof. We aren’t declining—we’re crashing, like Brooks mentioned. Who knows if we’ll stop this decline.


Greatest nation in the world? Haven’t read the other replies yet, but I’m pretty sure one of them will have the phrase “we’re a third world country with a Gucci belt.” With the earlier mentions of American society (90s and before), we were Gucci itself. Now we’re just, again, a third world country with a Gucci belt. That’s honestly all I can say, and that’s proven with what’s aforementioned.


Before we became critical thinkers (AKA before the age of 12, the point at which we finally enter what Piaget defined as the formal operational stage of cognition, in which we begin to utilize abstract thought and become more critical towards the world around us), I’d say we were oblivious to what was starting the “age of disappointment,” with things such as the 2008 market crash, the wars in Afghanistan, etc. At the age of 12, all the way up to now (so the past 5-6 years for probably everyone who take Facing History this year), we became more aware of what was happening—school shootings, outbreaks (remember ebola?), more war, overseas and at-home terrorism, racial tensions, etc. So for those past 5 or 6 years, we’ve grown into that world of disappointment. Not everything has been completely disappointing, though. Can’t think of any right now, due to the tone in which I’m writing this response (too negative to really think of anything positive at the moment), but I’m sure there are some out there. I think. I hope. Eh. It all went downhill when Harambe died.


Still, I only partly agree with what Levin says. Our generation does indeed say that “they’re failing us,” yet we are trying to help. We’re advocating and going out to invoke change. We’re trying. We indeed are outside of the system, but we are attempting to push our way in. May not work now, but if prolonged, we’re due for change and improvement in the long run. I hope it’ll happen. We ultimately need it to happen.


And finally, of course, the last part. Have the most recent events over the past six months (the death of George Floyd, COVID, etc.) impacted what I wrote and what was mentioned in the article? Of course. I don’t think either would exist if that weren’t the case. And fear does have a lot to do with this. I remember reading an article, I think it was for my APUSH class a few months ago during the first attempt at virtual learning, in which it described how being alone has ultimately amplified people’s fears. People actually began to hallucinate, hear things, believe paranormal activity was happening in their homes. Crazy, right? And as always, fear can push us to do astonishing fears. It’s the idea of fight or flight, induced by fear or anxiety. Our nervous system, or more specifically during fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, pushes our adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. So: fear -> adrenaline. And that adrenaline has pushed people to go protest. Hundreds of thousands of people. Regardless of the pandemic (which most have thought a bit silly, but a lot of the protests have tried to stay safe), people went out. But it was that same pandemic that produced that fear and made us go out. Made us protest. Made our voices heard. Especially when George Floyd was killed. That fear that that could happen to other BIPOCs created that adrenaline and threw people onto the streets to protest. Hundreds of thousands of people. All for one cause. Biology and psychology are wild, but amazing.


But yeah. We’re declining, and we need to do something. We’re trying, but I don’t think we’re trying hard enough.

blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

First, I love your username

Originally posted by UnrecognizableUsername on October 14, 2020 20:24

I think people definitely do not trust society. Personally I don’t think life feels real right now. I most certainly don’t trust society, because this world is full of disgusting people, and isn’t really sunshines and rainbows. I think living life is a decline unless you’re a part of the more fortunate. After childhood you’re hit with college, then bills, then debt, granted there are good parts of life but the further you age the worse it gets in my opinion. Whenever I hear this I don’t really think it's true, granted we “have the best this and that” but we aren’t the best at everything. Such as the BLM movement that some americans aren’t even taking seriously, doesn’t make the nation feel “the best”. Yes I definitely have, college applications come out of nowhere and hit you so hard and to be honest causes big stress. I don’t know how to answer this question because not everyone is the same (i.e. race/wealth/etc..). Fear is the driving force of all of these events, it’s in our homes, jobs, and schools.

I feel like this take is a very sad but true one. I agree with most of your points, even though it's kind of a Doomer take, that there's nothing that we can really do. The one thing that I disagree with is that fear is the driving force. I think there are ways to get away from fear, and also, right now, we need to work to escape from an endless cycle of fear and sadness. Also, good luck on your college apps! :)

mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 23

The American "Dream" (maybe nightmare?)

Originally posted by Junior on October 14, 2020 20:09

It seems like historians' favorite thing to do is organize periods of history into themes and rules. Perhaps that's a human feature, I don't think it matters. I am one of those historians/humans, but I don't put serious credence in the idea. Perhaps there is a science to humans in the same way there's a science to the fact that salmon will always swim upstream to lay their eggs, but I doubt that's something humans will ever learn. We would need to put aside all bias to achieve such an empirical truth, and I believe that if a human were to put aside all bias they would cease to be human. Rather superhuman, or perhaps inhuman.
Regardless of whether this is happening as some sort of pattern - as if it would've been unbelievable or impossible if this hadn't happened 30 years ago as well- there is certainly a decline occurring. An economist could tell you that, a climate scientist could tell you that, and any person who didn't sacrifice their eyes, ears and brain to conservatism would know that.

The United States has never been exceptional. It's certainly done great things, but to call it the greatest nation on earth is a farce. The United States is less than 250 years old, and was unremarkable for 150 of those years. It finally did something incredible in WW2, and then brought the world into the Cold War, a conflict that has crippled dozens of countries to this day. The U.S. kept up with the U.S.S.R., a nation that had existed for less than 25 years by the end of WW2, and brought the world to a standstill. Using german born scientists, they created a weapon that could, and almost has on multiple occasions, bring the end of the world. This is saying nothing of the nation's lackluster civics and ethics. The nation committed genocide, pioneered eugenics, had one of the most oppressive monopolies in human history, and has a human rights violation list longer than some dictionaries. The only thing the United States is exceptional at is excessive use of force. That's the most historically common theme in their history, not freedom or liberty. The first black girl to go to an American public school is in her mid to late sixties. How's that for liberty?

The biggest disappointment of this age is the realization that all of our problems are innate to the American system and way of life. Maybe to the upper middle and upper classes this whole situation is a bit of a shock, but the only thing surprising about our current troubles is that people think they're new.

I specifically like the whole "all of our problems are innate to the American system and way of life." Makes me think of how we're supposed to believe that the American dream truly does exist—that people can ultimately move up in society, do well, and thrive. For anyone who says that their families succeeded, congratulations. You may be doing well, but you're simply living through the IDEA of that dream. You forget what still happens around you, PARTICULARLY if you and/or your family immigrated here. You'll still face discrimination, struggles, and often, flat out racism. It's astonishing to believe that people (by people, I don't mean our generation; that became blatantly apparent to us as soon as we could spell the word "racism"—i'm talking about pre-millenials) are only now starting to realize that. I agree with you that it's surprising. It's ridiculous and disheartening. I guess history does repeat itself, but what people often forget to include with that "common saying" is that when it does repeat itself, it often turns out worse than before. Man, America sucks. Nation of freedom? Funny.

berry
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 23

We have many reasons to be fearful and untrusting

I think many people don’t have trust in society and our government. False information can be easily spread through the media. A lot of our leaders, even some of the most powerful, have shown that they can’t be trusted. The government and its institutions that are supposed to protect all the American people have failed to do so especially this year. The killing of George Floyd, and the over 200,000 Americans dead from COVID are some examples that have contributed to many’s fear. I think many Americans are scared of getting the Coronavirus, or giving it to their family members who are at high risk. The Coronavirus has been poorly handled by Donald Trump, who admitted to knowing about the virus in January. I don’t blame many for being fearful and distrustful, when we have a President who spreads false information about COVID and puts peoples lives at risk. Black people and POC are fearful for their lives especially when those whose duty it is to protect are killing them unjustly. In David Brooks’ article he states, “In the age of disappointment, our sense of safety went away. Some of this is physical insecurity: school shootings, terrorist attacks, police brutality, and overprotective parenting at home that leaves young people incapable of handling real-world stress. But the true insecurity is financial, social, and emotional”. I agree with this statement, these are all examples of why we are fearful and insecure. I think we have grown up in the age of disappointment, and I think we have been living through a decline. However, I think the decline is coming to an end soon and am hopeful Gen Z will help to pivot society. I agree with @gibby when they say this period of distrust will eventually lead to an improved society, but for now we have to accept society as it is. Eventually (and hopefully) we’ll reach a point where our pushing for change will lead to an actual change for the better.

yeahhokay
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Future is hard to tell

People definitely are operating in this moment based on a distrust in society. As the article talks about how Trump has lied throughout this whole pandemic about the severity of it, and the police brutality being more talked about this year has sparked up a level of distrust in this country, as there is little distrust in our leadership. I think that its too early to say whether or not we are living in a pivot or decline. I believe the election will determined whether or not our generation is in pivot or decline as it will continue to decline with Trump as our president. But however this year have especially spoken up more and cared more about the intuition than ever before which may lead us into the right direction. When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” I laugh a little to myself, because its not true. It would be sad if this was the greatest country in the world as it has so many corrupt institutions and is falling apart at the moment. I would agree that we live in an “Age of Disappointment” as we have already grown up in global pandemic, financial crisis in America, As well as the fact that the issues that we have faced in the past haven’t gone away but are very present to this day but just expressed in different forms. Just shows all of the “equality and freedom” that was accomplished, has so much work left to do that won’t be completed in our lifetimes as history repeats itself. I agree with Yuval Levin because our government has been failing us recently, causing people to hate the institutions whether on the left or the right. Public health has become political, rather than basic human necessities. Like in the article it talked about higher trust countries like the Netherlands were able to come up with a plan for Covid because they trusted their government. America is the number one cause of Covid-19 because of the distrust in our government. Covid 19 and the killing of George Flyod really showed how people’s views aren’t going to change and that it continues to make a conflict and divide in the country which is not what we need.


I agree with DewdropDoll that this country is not the best in the world and that America has had some great achievements but not the best in the world. As with the economic decline going on right now I as well wouldn’t consider it the best.

UnKnown
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

America is Having a Moral Convulsion

Right now, I believe a lot of people do not trust society that much. Events this year such as the coronavirus, the BLM movements, and the actions of Trump are some of the events that have caused people to distrust society. There are a lot of things going around the country right now, with a lot of people saying different things so I wouldn’t blame people if they do not trust society. Right now I believe we are living through a decline rather than a pivot. We aren’t in the best state right now but I think we can bounce back from it. Many countries in the world have their ups and downs so like what SleezMoth said I don’t think we should worry too much about it and we should be fine. Eventually we will improve. When I hear about America being the greatest, I definitely agree that we have accomplished a lot of things and that living conditions in America are by far better than a lot of places in the world. But I think there are a lot of things we need to improve as a country. I don’t fully agree with the statement that we are growing up in the age of disappointment but I am disappointed with a few things and events happening in the world and the country.

cabbage
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 18

Distrust

At this moment people are acting like this because they distrust the government and society. A lot of times people say they do not like to get political, but these are the people running our country which will most definitely affect us. Due to COVID and quarantine, people have had a lot of more time indoors and alone and the inequalities in our world have become more prevalent. The U.S did not have a reliable plan for how to handle the pandemic and it still doesn’t. It’s understandable that deciding what is best to do is not easy for a whole nation, but that is also why not anyone can be president. The government has always failed minorities, and when society expected severe consequences to multiple recent racial issues and incidents, the government disappointed. This distrust in government can be seen when Brook mentions that many people were wary of the president actually getting sick with COVID and did not know the truth from lies.

It is difficult to predict the future right now with all the uncertainty going around. There is a clear overall trend of decline from earlier years however as part of a young generation I believe that if we choose to be pessimistic and do not try to change for the better it won’t happen on it’s own. The U.S needs to head into a direction of change even if it is small.

I have never thought the U.S was a great nation. From a young age I experienced discrimination and economic instability. I am glad for people who have had a good life here and see that it is safer and more stable than others, but I do not see it as the greatest nor did I ever. My family was met with disappointment the second they came here with hopes of prosperity and social climbing, but realized that that only applies to certain people. I agree with Brook that I have grown up in an age of disappointment where immigrant children have to translate government forms and speak two languages fluently before being able to be a kid. I feel like a lot of our generation grew up feeling that they had to be mature for their age and adults praised that taking away a crucial part of life and development, childhood. The U.S does not teach kids the dark side of American history to put themselves on a pedestal of greatness, but it just ends up leaving many Americans ignorant about history that repeats itself all the time.

I agree that lower trusting eras make people feel like outsiders because they do not feel safe and distrust the government whose job it is to regulate policy and actions.

Mnemosyne
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Really Long Post

I do think that people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they do not have trust in society. Why should they have trust in society, when every time they perform some act of kindness, of fairness, of compassion, they get stabbed in the back immediately after? How many times have you placed your hopes on a particular politician or elected official, only to have them let you down? How many times have you tried to do the right thing, only to be penalized for it? Why do you think there is even the axiom that no good deed goes unpunished? People learn from punishment and rewards. Too often, they have been punished for trusting in society, rather than rewarded for it. As a result, they learn to distrust everyone outside of their personal circle, fearing that trusting and helping others will only bring disadvantages upon them.

The pessimist in me wants to say that we are living through a decline, but really, at the moment we are living through a pivot. It is easy to focus on all the bad things that seem to be facing younger people today. Brooks talks at length about “lower quality of life,” “more depression,” “higher suicide rates,” and how “you’re always at the mercy of the next person’s dim opinion of you and your whole deal”—all of which are extremely valid and deeply concerning. But he does not talk about the rising support for mental health awareness and therapy, the growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, and the growing percentage of Americans who view global warming as something that is generally underestimated.

You might say that the bad far outstrips the good—and I would agree with you. But that does not mean the good is not there, and I feel that much of the good things that are happening right now are due to the activism and energetic desire to bring about change that is being embraced by the youth today. As such, I believe that with time and significant effort, Gen Zers (and millennials too, I guess) can make lasting positive change in the country—but the next few years are pivotal.

The US is currently in the midst of a negative feedback loop, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. From the very beginning, the federal government did almost nothing to help combat the crisis, and state governments’ responses were varied and mostly ineffective. The booming economy—which was one of the only good things about Trump’s presidency—tanked sharply. Furthermore, already existing inequalities have only gotten worse because of the health crisis. Lockdown disproportionally affected low-income individuals negatively, and many essential workers (think supermarket cashiers) are those working minimum-wage jobs. How the US recovers from this disaster will depend greatly on how its decisions in the next few years.

In my opinion, the belief that the US is “the greatest nation in the world” or “the greatest success story on earth” is about as substantial as the American Dream: seemingly sizeable in myth, but nonexistent in reality. There is a saying in Chinese that can roughly translated as “America’s moon is always rounder,” something that I imagine countless foreigners and quite a few Americans would agree about. But my experiences in the US have shown me not remarkable quantities of success, greatness, and egalitarianism but extraordinary amounts of inequality, violence, and hatred. Perhaps once upon a time the US was the greatest nation in the world, but certainly not right now, and I do not think that it ever was.

Brooks argues that I (and the rest of my generation) have grown up in the “age of disappointment,” which I pretty much agree with. We keep hoping and hoping—that America will elect a decent president, that school and police shootings will stop being commonplace, that the government will actually do something substantial about climate change—and we have been disappointed almost every time. And we have not stopped hoping either, but now we are finally beginning to take action ourselves.

A prime example is the Black Lives Matter movement. Thousands of teens, from all over the nation and from all walks of life, poured out into the streets to protest the unjust killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and countless others. White, black, Asian, Native American: everyone began actively supporting the BLM movement, whether through protests, posts on social media, or donations. Youth from everywhere in the nation are committed to become not just non-racist, but anti-racists, and my hope is that we will succeed in bringing about long-term change.

Lastly, I agree with Yuval Levin, especially his statement that “we see ourselves as outsiders to the systems.” These days, I feel that almost everyone is part of some sort of minority. Even a white middle-class straight man can have a disability or be Muslim. Brooks makes the fairly-accurate claim that “the cultural mantra … [has shifted] from “Don’t label me!” to “My label is who I am.” But a large reason for this is because most active advocates for the rights of a specific minority group come from that minority itself. Sure, if you ask a random person on the street if they support disability rights, nine times out of ten they will say yes. However, the people who are creating petitions, writing letters to congresspeople, and organizing awareness events are most likely those who have a disability or are close with someone who has one. Though there are exceptions to the role (BLM is a big one), most of the time, minorities can make their voice heard only by banding together.

Mnemosyne
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Replies

Originally posted by Fireheart on October 14, 2020 22:43

When I was growing up, the only time I learned about people or countries other than America, was in a history school in class. All issues and obstacles I’ve faced, can’t even be compared to those of others that I’m just learning about and being made aware of. I really grew up with this limited, circular, view in which all I saw, were the things that affected me and my family in my small bubble of comfort. Getting outside of this bubble was really jarring, but it was also a learning experience for me. I think that a lot of people, like me, were really forced to see how certain groups of people have been unnecessarily facing injustices. I just remember feeling so angry and disappointed with myself, being a person of color, and not really knowing all that was happening in this country the last few years. This past summer was a time of reflection and educating myself, which I think was really necessary.

Exactly! I feel that elementary schools would really benefit from some sort of ‘current events’ class. I know that some topics are a bit heavy to talk about with little kids, but I think that it would be quite beneficial for kids to learn about trending topics so that they can become informed citizens from a young age and are not forced to wade their way through this sea of issues by themselves when they turn twelve or so.

Originally posted by blueslothbear on October 14, 2020 22:59

Do I think people distrust society? That depends on one's definition of society. I think people do trust smaller societies, like political sub-groups or people who agree with them. But do they believe that the greater society and government has their interests at heart? No. The country is too diverse for it. People just can't trust that the government is doing the right thing some of the time. People have become polarized, and at some point, it feels like (like with the SCOTUS seat) it is more important to win than to do what's right. Lying has become commonplace, and there's not enough unity to bridge the divide anymore.

I agree so much with this. People trust smaller societies and communities (such as school, for example) because they usually interact with the members and leaders of said societies on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. A close first-hand connection allows people to personally see for themselves if the leaders are dependable and trustworthy. But such a connection is not possible with larger societies. Many people have never met their Congress representative, or their governor, or perhaps even their mayor. As a result, they are less likely to place their trust in someone whom they have never seen face-to-face. Add that with the fact that politics nowadays seem to be an exercise in amassing power and fame while achieving nothing, and it is no wonder that Americans seem to distrust their government and society in general.

TroutCowboy
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

"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?"

It would seem so, that people are operating out of distrust for society. As the author describes, people have splintered out into their own groups outside of the status quo. The resurgence of things like white supremacist groups, along with the Black Lives Matter movement combatting them, show that people are becoming more and more divided and distrustful of their fellow man. It seems that, more and more, people are identifying themselves with groups out of distrust of society, and other people as a whole.

"How do you respond to the question Brooks asks: are we living through a pivot or a decline? "

I see the ideas of a "pivot" and "decline" to be two sides of the same thing. Calling the cultural shift we're going through a "decline" would imply that it's negative, and that's a view that people might hold because the status quo they know and love has shifted into something unfamiliar. There's a reason why the phrase "The good ol' days" exists. Younger generations, people born into and during this change, may not look at it so negatively. All that really matters is that change IS happening, whether you like it or not.

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?

I don't think I have a real frame of reference regarding the statement that "the United States is the greatest nation in the world". I have no doubt that America, one way or another, has grown to become the superpower and world leader that it is today, but I don't know enough about the rest of the world or global history to make a call on this statement. All I can really say is that it's an opinion, and that it might be right or wrong.

Do you think you have grown up, as Brooks argues, in the “age of disappointment”? Why or why not?

If David Brooks thinks that the 2010s were "the age of disappointment", then I suppose I have. I don't know if it was always this bad, or if this societal sense of "disappointment" is something that's only come about as of recent. I have no real frame of reference, and I don't think I know enough to say something meaningful about this.

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?

Yeah, maybe? I don't have any real strong feelings about Levin's analysis. Personally, I don't feel like people are skewed one way or the other, and I don't have the historical context to know how it was in "high-trust eras". I do believe that people are gradually losing trust in society and "the system", but I think this is reading a bit too far into it.

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?

The varied public perception of COVID and how to deal with it have caused some people to lose trust in the government, and others to lose trust in their fellow Americans. The killing of George Floyd has brought people together in their distrust of the government and/or police. The driving factor between both of these is fear. Fear is what has brought people to lose trust in society.


I share @softballgirl18 's hope for the future, and I believe that trust can and will be restored, bringing us closer together as Americans.


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