posts 1 - 15 of 36
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.

razzledazzle8
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

Fear Leading to Distrust in 2020

I genuinely do think that in this moment in time people do not trust society at all and that is why we are currently acting in this manner. Especially people of Gen Z have grown up in an age of failure in institutions like David Brooks said. We have never seen a society that has fully been successful or where the majority of people have trusted the government. I think since Donald Trump was elected in 2016 America hasn’t trusted society. This is because Donald Trump doesn’t tell the truth so now as a generation we believe that everything produced or said by institutions needs to be taken with a grain of salt. People then operate in a way that only protects themselves because they believe they can’t trust others. It’s the domino effect, if one person says they can’t trust others then you feel you can’t trust them either.

I really hope this country is in a pivot and not a decline. I see hope through my peers who are willing to take this country for what it is and trying to come up with ways to improve it. We are currently all trying to save this country from decline by protesting, like Black Lives Matter protests, to fight racial inequality and police brutality, and creating new acts, like the Green New Deal, to save climate change. We aren’t letting these issues pass us by which I think would then send this country into a decline, we are doing something about it. I don’t believe that this is the end of America, I believe we are creating a new future.

When I hear the phrase “the United States is the greatest country in the world”, I hear the word lies. We tend to hide our past, for example we tend to not learn as much about our not so pretty history, like slavery, but we do learn about the parts of American history that make us look like heroes. In a lot of ways this country is great but there are too many things that contradict that statement. The fact that we are still fighting for racial equality is absurd because don’t you think 56 years after the Civil Rights Act we would have this figured out, but we don’t. We still can’t have stricter gun control laws even though it is killing our children in school shootings like Sandy Hook and Parkland, because people feel they need to “protect” themselves. Do they ever think about the kids in classrooms thinking of different ways they can get out if there was a shooter and not focusing on quadratic equations? For these reasons we cannot call ourselves the greatest country in the world. We can’t call ourselves great by being oblivious to the truth.

I do think I have grown up in the “age of disappointment”. Time after time again we are disappointed but various institutions in this country. Many people of Gen Z were born in the year of 2001 which was a year of fear and unrest. Then by the time many of us were in elementary school we witnessed the adults of the world lose their jobs due to “The Great Recession”, so some kids had parents that probably lost jobs and changed their lives. Then still in elementary school we witnessed Sandy Hook and the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. This made us scared to go to school and made African American children afraid of the police. Then in 2015, we watched on TV the Charleston shooting and that made us afraid to go to church. Now in 2020, we are spending our high school years at home instead of having fun enjoying the last bit of our childhood because of the negligence of the government. By the time we are 16 years old we are afraid of the world.

I definitely agree with Yuval Levin’s statement because more often than not the low-trust areas are the ones that have been wronged before. We feel that we can’t do anything because we don’t have the power. We don’t think we can create change. But that has begun to diminish because now we feel we can make change if we are loud enough. By protesting, we can create change because we look back at the 1960’s and we see after protesting came change. So I guess in many ways I agree with Levin’s statement but in ways I don’t.

COVID and the killing of George Floyd have everything to do with this. COVID has shown how corrupt the government is currently and that leads to distrust. We fear what might happen to this country in the hands of Donald Trump because look at what has happened in his hands. He’s the one that blamed George H. W. Bush for 9/11 so look how the tables have turned on him. We also fear what else the government has lied to us about the past 4 years because COVID can’t be the only thing. The killing of George Floyd makes POC afraid of the police. In recent events, now that Derek Chauvin has been released, it shows us that a badge can really save you from life in prison. Which makes everyone afraid of what the police can do because they honestly have a free pass. It makes everyone not trust the police or the government because they are the ones allowing this to happen.


coral27
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Fear, Distrust, and Anxiety

I do think people are acting the way they are because they are distrustful of society and its institutions. Politically, on one end of the spectrum, part of Trump’s appeal in the 2016 election was his promise to “drain the swamp,” that is, get rid of the corrupt, stagnant Washington politics. A reason people cited for supporting him was that “he’s an outsider,” reflecting distrust of existing politicians. On the other side of the aisle, more liberal Americans, especially younger ones, do not trust that the government has their interests in mind. This is reflected by protests about the environment and racial justice; many young people are anxious about what the future holds.

Time will tell whether we’re living through a pivot or a decline. I believe that unless we make it a pivot and continue business as usual, it will be a decline. I’m hopeful that we can turn it around. Young people are willing to turn out to protest. But I think the key is the continuation of the fight. This country will never be “done.” There will always be work to do. We cannot stop when the hashtags lose steam; we have to continue demanding change, and, maybe most importantly, voting. Brooks brought up the question of how much energy we have. Like @razzledazzle8, I see protests, grassroots campaigns, and local efforts to solve issues, and I have hope. But I agree with Brooks that we won’t go back to what we had before.

I would say that we have grown up in the age of anxiety, and I think that anxiety, fear, and disappointment go hand in hand. None of us were alive before 9/11, so I cannot speak from experience, but I think that event shifted our national mindset to a lack of trust in each other, especially minorities and foreigners. Then, during our childhood and now into our adolescence, as @razzledazzle8 brought up, we witnessed a series of awful events (Sandy Hook, George Floyd, COVID, etc) and the unacceptable inaction about them that will undoubtedly influence our beliefs and levels of trust in society and its institutions. Inaction about issues like police and school shootings, as well as climate change, healthcare, and the economy, are issues that make many young people anxious about the future we are growing up into.

Personally, I think I was raised with a general lack of faith in institutions, especially the government. It’s certainly healthy to have a level of suspicion about the government, but not to this extent. However, a shift in this perspective would have to come from actual change. I can’t speak for the whole generation, but when I read and hear about what life was like when our parents and grandparents were growing up, I get the sense that our era is shaped by fear of our fellow Americans, as well as our crumbling institutions. For example, hitchhiking used to be common. Now, there’s always the fear that the person on the side of the road is a serial killer.

This brings up the question of whether our distrust and anxiety is just hysteria as a result of overdramatic news and polarized politics, or a legitimate concern. But even that question reflects our distrust in institutions (the press)! Recently, there has absolutely been some unnecessary hysteria (remember when there was a “toilet paper shortage”?) But right now, with the lead-up to the election and Trump’s increasingly concerning remarks about a transition of power, it’s hard to know just how worried Americans should be. I agree that there’s some fear mongering going on. But I also think it would be naive to say we shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen in these next few months.

Another point that this post has brought to mind over and over is the disparity in experiences. In the past, white people, especially men, would generally feel safer in certain situations. For example, African Americans tend to have less trust in the medical and police systems, and for good reason given history. This connects to the United States’ image of progress and achievement. We are ahead of the rest of the world in certain ways. We have an incredibly powerful military and economy. But this glittering reputation hides ugly truths, primarily the history of violence and exclusion of women and minorities.

I do believe that we have that mentality of being outsiders to the system. This mentality is similar to the “I’m O.K., You’re Selfish” idea, where we think that we and our friends aren’t part of the awful, corrupt, morally degrading society. As people who want change, we cannot continue to complain about the way things are, and then not vote or actually do something to make change.
butterfly123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Distrust in the US

Like Brooks discusses, I think that distrust in society has a lot to do with the way people have been acting. As @razzledazzle8 mentions, members of Gen Z especially have grown up in an age where distrust of the government is normal. It is hard for us to even picture a time where people trusted each other and institutions. This has caused a divide in our country. The economic gaps, racial gaps, and differences between political parties seem almost too large to repair. The points that Brooks made about Donald Trump and the “conditions that brought him to power” being what made him so dangerous reminded me of a quote from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She said that Trump was a “symptom of much deeper problems.” I think this quote helps to prove Brooks’ point that yes, Trump's election has been a big part in increasing the political divide and destabilizing the country, but we have to look at what caused people to want to vote for him. How did our society get so broken that many thought that Donald Trump was the way out, and more importantly can we fix it?

Brooks asks, “are we living through a pivot or a decline?” and the honest answer is that at this point none of us can say. We all hope it is a pivot that will turn into a new golden age of the US as has happened in the past, but at this point it is hard to tell. As @coral27 said, things like “protests, grassroots campaigns, and local efforts to solve issues” show that many people are trying to fix what has been broken, and give me hope for the future.

Like many members of our generation, I find the phrase “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” almost laughable. Being a child in the US school system we were fed rhetoric about America being number 1, and how thankful we should be for our freedom. However the older our generation got, the more clear these lies became. While of course I recognize that I should be thankful for the relative freedom we have in the US, we are certainly not “the greatest”. As @razzledazzle8 said, “the fact that we are still fighting for racial equality is absurd.” And while it is easy to romanticize the past and wish we could go back to what we once had, the truth is that America has never truly been “great”. There has always been discrimination and marginalized groups. In 2020, now more than ever, it is important to advocate for change and try to repair the social trust before it is too late.

broskiii
Charlestown, MA, US
Posts: 6

Fear Leads to Distrust and Anxiety

At this moment, in 2020, I believe that many people have chosen to distrust society because of all the matters that are happening around the world. Personally, the moment that Trump was elected president, I stopped putting my trust in society. I did not think that Trump was going to win because I thought that a lot more people would have disagreed with his values and thought that they were preposterous, but I stand corrected. I do 100% believe that I have grown up in the age that Brooks argues is a disappointment because he mentions that nowadays millennials make up only 3.2% of the economy compared to the baby boomers who make up 32%. I can’t believe that the newest members of adults in society can impact the economy so little compared to the baby boomers who are 60-70 years old now still have that much wealth. Wealth is not trickled down and it boggles me that the newest members of society have that small of wealth. Even though I am not a millennial, I can still safely say we are growing up in his age of failure. As razzledazzle8 mentioned, we have to now take everything with a grain of salt, meaning that we have to take into account the credibility of the speaker, if what they are saying is a fact, and if the fact can be provided with evidence. We have to fact-check almost everything the president or the government says because we can no longer trust institutions to provide scientific facts.

I think that this country is currently in a pivot rather than a decline because I believe that America has the potential to change and to change for the better. I want to believe that after Trump is out of office that everything will go back to the way they used to be, but I am 100% sure that this will not happen. I think that it would be interesting to see the gradual change from life with Trump to life without Trump in office. I don’t remember what life was like in the early stages of Obama’s presidency because I was 5 years old, but I’m sure that it was not as hectic as it was back in 2016 with Trump beginning his presidency. Another reason that I think our country is in a pivot is due to people protesting about matters that they care about and are important to society. It makes me proud to see people standing up for what they believe in and how they want to change these systematic ordeals that were predetermined for us without our say into something that can provide equality to all.

I do not believe that America is the greatest nation or has been the greatest because I have seen the way they treat immigrants here in the US and it just frustrates me how they think that we are stealing their jobs and are taking all their resources away. Especially during the pandemic, Asian-Americans were faced with racist comments like “Go eat bats,” or “You are the cause of corona. Go back.” It’s comments like those that make me distrust society and make me dislike America even more than I already do because I just do not understand how you can just blame something on the entire race. For George Floyd, I remember watching the video of his murder on social media and thinking that the police only protect those who are white and are not part of POC. This fear of being attacked and not having the ability to be protected in your own country is what makes the POC community very terrified of living in America sometimes.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement because as mentioned before in the article, I do not believe that the government is telling us the whole truth about the pandemic, our international relations, etc. So, because they choose not to give out any information regarding what is happening right now around the world, it makes me disassociate myself with the government and it leads me to think that we are separated; we have no relation to each other other than the fact that we live in the same country. We, as Americans, as razzledazzle8 mentioned, don’t think that we have the power to create change and to say whether or not a proposed law will be beneficial to the people. We just assume that if the president and the other government officials say that it should be a law, then it should be a law because they are supposed to be credible. As you can see, that’s not always that case and it leads me to see myself as an outsider when it comes to government decisions about our country.

razzledazzle8
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

Originally posted by coral27 on October 13, 2020 19:20

I do think people are acting the way they are because they are distrustful of society and its institutions. Politically, on one end of the spectrum, part of Trump’s appeal in the 2016 election was his promise to “drain the swamp,” that is, get rid of the corrupt, stagnant Washington politics. A reason people cited for supporting him was that “he’s an outsider,” reflecting distrust of existing politicians. On the other side of the aisle, more liberal Americans, especially younger ones, do not trust that the government has their interests in mind. This is reflected by protests about the environment and racial justice; many young people are anxious about what the future holds.

Time will tell whether we’re living through a pivot or a decline. I believe that unless we make it a pivot and continue business as usual, it will be a decline. I’m hopeful that we can turn it around. Young people are willing to turn out to protest. But I think the key is the continuation of the fight. This country will never be “done.” There will always be work to do. We cannot stop when the hashtags lose steam; we have to continue demanding change, and, maybe most importantly, voting. Brooks brought up the question of how much energy we have. Like @razzledazzle8, I see protests, grassroots campaigns, and local efforts to solve issues, and I have hope. But I agree with Brooks that we won’t go back to what we had before.

I would say that we have grown up in the age of anxiety, and I think that anxiety, fear, and disappointment go hand in hand. None of us were alive before 9/11, so I cannot speak from experience, but I think that event shifted our national mindset to a lack of trust in each other, especially minorities and foreigners. Then, during our childhood and now into our adolescence, as @razzledazzle8 brought up, we witnessed a series of awful events (Sandy Hook, George Floyd, COVID, etc) and the unacceptable inaction about them that will undoubtedly influence our beliefs and levels of trust in society and its institutions. Inaction about issues like police and school shootings, as well as climate change, healthcare, and the economy, are issues that make many young people anxious about the future we are growing up into.

Personally, I think I was raised with a general lack of faith in institutions, especially the government. It’s certainly healthy to have a level of suspicion about the government, but not to this extent. However, a shift in this perspective would have to come from actual change. I can’t speak for the whole generation, but when I read and hear about what life was like when our parents and grandparents were growing up, I get the sense that our era is shaped by fear of our fellow Americans, as well as our crumbling institutions. For example, hitchhiking used to be common. Now, there’s always the fear that the person on the side of the road is a serial killer.

This brings up the question of whether our distrust and anxiety is just hysteria as a result of overdramatic news and polarized politics, or a legitimate concern. But even that question reflects our distrust in institutions (the press)! Recently, there has absolutely been some unnecessary hysteria (remember when there was a “toilet paper shortage”?) But right now, with the lead-up to the election and Trump’s increasingly concerning remarks about a transition of power, it’s hard to know just how worried Americans should be. I agree that there’s some fear mongering going on. But I also think it would be naive to say we shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen in these next few months.

Another point that this post has brought to mind over and over is the disparity in experiences. In the past, white people, especially men, would generally feel safer in certain situations. For example, African Americans tend to have less trust in the medical and police systems, and for good reason given history. This connects to the United States’ image of progress and achievement. We are ahead of the rest of the world in certain ways. We have an incredibly powerful military and economy. But this glittering reputation hides ugly truths, primarily the history of violence and exclusion of women and minorities.

I do believe that we have that mentality of being outsiders to the system. This mentality is similar to the “I’m O.K., You’re Selfish” idea, where we think that we and our friends aren’t part of the awful, corrupt, morally degrading society. As people who want change, we cannot continue to complain about the way things are, and then not vote or actually do something to make change.

I find it very interesting that you brought the article, “I’m O.K., You’re Selfish”, into the conversation because it is so true. We always think that we aren’t part of the problem but we really are because we aren’t doing anything about it. We, as citizens of the U.S., have the mentality that we don’t have to be the ones to stand up for what’s right because someone more powerful will probably do it. This tied directing into what David Brooks said about being outsiders to the system. We find that we don’t have any power because all we can do is vote, but in reality that is power. I feel like when we try to make change we are shot down by Trump or other officials and that discourages us and makes us feel like nothing can be done. We feel like outsiders because we can’t do anything to change the system and we think that someone else will just do it. We need to start being upstanders instead of bystanders to the decline of our country.

239bid0073
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Fear in 2020

I have faith that American is only in a pivot and not in decline. As razzledazzle said, I look around me and see my peers who are so passionate and open about fixing the problems that America is facing today. And this gives me a great deal of confidence that everything will be alright.

Brooks states that GenZ has been growing up in a society of distrust. As I have gotten older and realized how much hope I have compared to other people, I realized that I have grown up pretty sheltered most of my life. It is not until a year ago that I would say America is failing. It wasn’t because I was in denial of it, it was simply because I didn’t know. I think my parents have sheltered me, and blocked my ability to see the distrust for the past decade. I see it now, and am fully aware. Because most of my life I have not seen the flaws in America hope, optimism, and faith have prevailed in my mind. And they still do. In a time like this I believe that those things are great to have but more importantly are the facts and the truth. Which I lacked for so long.

I think many are operating as if they do not have trust in society. People are taking it into their own hands to promote specific campaigns, protest, and support movements and speak up against the blatant wrong. This is all being done and supported by the people. As Brooks says this generation has a focus on groups. We no longer believe in individualism. As we have more and more distrust in the society and institutions that have raised us we are leaning on each other, our peers, and equals to help us make a change.

As broskiii said it is frustrating to hear the phrase that America is the greatest nation. It is hard to live through what we hear and to feel like no one understands. Or feel as if our fears and flaws for this country are not validated because we are the “greatest country”. I understand why people believe this to be true. Because our country was founded on the ideals that it was for the people. But those who do not live here don’t always see what is really happening.

Now that I am older I can see that maybe I have grown up in the “age of disappointment”. I think that much has happened to dampen our view of the world and institutions that govern us. We have not seen anything miraculous happen. And I believe that's what needs to happen to get us out of this decline. People are afraid. People are fearing for their rights, their freedoms, and liberty. And it is a scary thing to think that those things as of now are not guaranteed.

When we can’t trust what is supposed to be the most trustworthy nothing else can fall into place and run properly. When we can’t see clearly the direction our leaders are taking us in we get scared. America is scared right now, and until something is done about it we are going to be in this period of decline.

crunchysnowball
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Failure does not equate to decline, but sheds light on reasons to improve

In this moment in our country, a majority of people are definitely operating off of distrust in society. I definitely feel this is true because it is all we see in the media these days. Protests and activism are flooding our lives in this age where social media is inescapable. In the recent decades of the United States’ history, there are so many events that mark the ways in which systems have failed the people. There has not been a single moment where war has not been raging somewhere in the world in a Gen Zer’s lifetime. However in light of this, the increase of activist movements has been bringing attention to issues in our society that have existed for countless decades. It may seem bleak that it appears that we have an increase of social justice issues, but in reality I think it’s a good thing that we are all combatting this. With this in mind, my answer to Brooks’ question is that we are living through a pivot. There will always be ways that we as a society go through a decline, such as economically, but in terms of morality I do think that more people are becoming aware of the challenges that many face. It can be argued that we are becoming more categorized and separated into our own groups, but I feel that there isn’t such a stark contrast between the groups anymore as it used to be. People can belong to multiple different groups now, and we all mostly have the same common enemy of social injustice. To say that we are living through a decline, is like saying that we haven’t made any progress in society. I think that we have come a long way in being more aware as a country. In my own experience, before coming to BLS, I didn’t see the systemic flaws we had, but that doesn’t mean that the world became worse, it just meant that there was more room for improvement, more room for people to make progressives moves. Aside from having trust within our own groups, (which Brooks mentioned in regards to the black community having more trust within their own community), we do all have a collective distrust in the system.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world”, I think that the tense as well as the perspective is incorrect. At one point we may have been a leading country in terms of the economy, progress, and innovation. However in terms of social progress, we are well behind many countries, especially Nordic ones, who have far greater percentages in trust in their country and their people. In turn I think that this made us fall behind and not accelerate at the pace of other nations. Saying that we are the greatest country paints a picture that we had no hardships, we in fact our history is peppered with mistakes. Since we are experiencing first hand all of the ways in which the system has failed us, it is hard to even give any validity to that statement. All this being said, without the trust in our nation, this instills fear. We have seen this mindset that, as Levin states, ‘They’re failing us’, especially in the recent months with the unjust murder of George Floyd, causing an uproar against how the police system has failed black communities, and more globally, the COVID-19 pandemic where not only are certain groups at a higher disadvantage for being affected, but also the increased violent bigotry against Asian-Americans (as @broskiii has suscintly stated). Being a teenager in the midst of all this, I do believe that I am living through an “age of disappointment” because there is more coverage being placed on ongoing underlying issues and on people who see themselves as outsiders to the system. I think this disappointment and feeling of otherness has been around for decades, but it is just now that we are finally all making an effort to change this. I can only hope that in the future we somehow gain more trust between groups to get ourselves out of this age.

crunchysnowball
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by broskiii on October 14, 2020 00:18

At this moment, in 2020, I believe that many people have chosen to distrust society because of all the matters that are happening around the world. Personally, the moment that Trump was elected president, I stopped putting my trust in society. I did not think that Trump was going to win because I thought that a lot more people would have disagreed with his values and thought that they were preposterous, but I stand corrected. I do 100% believe that I have grown up in the age that Brooks argues is a disappointment because he mentions that nowadays millennials make up only 3.2% of the economy compared to the baby boomers who make up 32%. I can’t believe that the newest members of adults in society can impact the economy so little compared to the baby boomers who are 60-70 years old now still have that much wealth. Wealth is not trickled down and it boggles me that the newest members of society have that small of wealth. Even though I am not a millennial, I can still safely say we are growing up in his age of failure. As razzledazzle8 mentioned, we have to now take everything with a grain of salt, meaning that we have to take into account the credibility of the speaker, if what they are saying is a fact, and if the fact can be provided with evidence. We have to fact-check almost everything the president or the government says because we can no longer trust institutions to provide scientific facts.

I think that this country is currently in a pivot rather than a decline because I believe that America has the potential to change and to change for the better. I want to believe that after Trump is out of office that everything will go back to the way they used to be, but I am 100% sure that this will not happen. I think that it would be interesting to see the gradual change from life with Trump to life without Trump in office. I don’t remember what life was like in the early stages of Obama’s presidency because I was 5 years old, but I’m sure that it was not as hectic as it was back in 2016 with Trump beginning his presidency. Another reason that I think our country is in a pivot is due to people protesting about matters that they care about and are important to society. It makes me proud to see people standing up for what they believe in and how they want to change these systematic ordeals that were predetermined for us without our say into something that can provide equality to all.

I do not believe that America is the greatest nation or has been the greatest because I have seen the way they treat immigrants here in the US and it just frustrates me how they think that we are stealing their jobs and are taking all their resources away. Especially during the pandemic, Asian-Americans were faced with racist comments like “Go eat bats,” or “You are the cause of corona. Go back.” It’s comments like those that make me distrust society and make me dislike America even more than I already do because I just do not understand how you can just blame something on the entire race. For George Floyd, I remember watching the video of his murder on social media and thinking that the police only protect those who are white and are not part of POC. This fear of being attacked and not having the ability to be protected in your own country is what makes the POC community very terrified of living in America sometimes.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement because as mentioned before in the article, I do not believe that the government is telling us the whole truth about the pandemic, our international relations, etc. So, because they choose not to give out any information regarding what is happening right now around the world, it makes me disassociate myself with the government and it leads me to think that we are separated; we have no relation to each other other than the fact that we live in the same country. We, as Americans, as razzledazzle8 mentioned, don’t think that we have the power to create change and to say whether or not a proposed law will be beneficial to the people. We just assume that if the president and the other government officials say that it should be a law, then it should be a law because they are supposed to be credible. As you can see, that’s not always that case and it leads me to see myself as an outsider when it comes to government decisions about our country.

In response to your comment about not believing that the government is telling the whole truth about, quite frankly, anything, I think that without having trust in a grand system like the one that is supposed to be leading the country, is what will force trust between members in our society. If we can't even believe the larger and supposedly most trustworthy and powerful institution in our country, how can we trust each other? And on your point about life without the Trump presidency, I do feel that as soon as he was elected into office, our country went from divided to even more divided. However, with this division, I think that it forced other groups to stand together against these inequities. For example, I have been seeing a lot more posts from Asian-Americans and their families specifically stand and support the BLM movement. Due to this I think that our society is evolving in that way. I definitely feel the same way as you about how interesting it will be to see life after the end of Trump in office.

Dolphin42
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Losing trust in the country

I think that people are operating in this moment because of their distrust in society and in the institutions. Our generation grew up in a time period where we’re told that not everything the politicians say is true. The lies that Donald Trump tells us further confirms this statement. It’s hard to believe someone or anything that’s on the media because in the age of technology, anything can be manipulated to convince the audience. Americans show trust in the government by voting for their ideal candidates and by paying taxes, but the institutions haven’t been able to fulfill their promises and problems such as police brutality and systemic racism still exist. How can we trust the institutions if they are using the taxpayer’s money to support an unjust cause? This is why our generation is speaking up to urge the institutions to find a solution instead of contributing to the problems.

We are at an intersection where one road leads to a decline and the other leads to a better future for America. I agree with @crunchysnowball that the country is in an economic decline and a moral pivot. The economy has obviously been in a recession since the beginning of the pandemic. But now that people are in a quarantine or have been laid off, they have more time to educate themselves on the challenges that America faces and the urgency to take action. The death of George Floyd has shone a light on the police brutality and racism in America. It also increased the fear that the same thing might happen to any one of us and people realized that things need to change. The result of the upcoming election is a major factor in determining whether America is in a decline or a pivot. Either way, this year is an important turning point and more people are starting to become aware of the issues that are going on in our country.

The United States may be well known for its achievements and growing international power but it is not the greatest nation in the world. People have this perception of the United States because of how the country is portrayed on the international stage. I think that the U.S. is far from the greatest nation in the world. For Americans, especially the minorities and the low-income families, the U.S. is a country that discriminates against people based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and political values. As Brook mentioned, the greatness of our country is being “crushed by the collapse of our institutions and the implosion of social trust”. The people no longer trust the institutions due to their inaction; therefore they have taken it upon themselves to solve the challenges within the country.

I think that I have grown up in the age of disappointment. As @razzledazzle8 mentioned, we grew up in a time period where there are civil unrest, economic recession, school shootings, racism, and now we’re living during a pandemic. Even though I get frustrated by the politicians who argue over their personal scandals instead of coming up with a course of action, I’m encouraged to take action so that the future generations don’t have to live through the same situations as our generation.

I agree with Yuval Levin that as people start to lose trust in institutions, we see ourselves as outsiders who think that the government is failing us. But at the same time, people are starting to recognize the power that they have and have begun to unit together to ask the question of ‘What can we do?’. Advocacy is important when it comes to low-trust eras. If we don’t trust the institutions to intervene, then we can advocate for change ourselves.

SlothsPoopOnceAWeek
Chestnuthill, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Change in society

Our generation has grown to not trust the government. With a lot of information being withheld from us, I would also like to fall in the category of not trusting the government. The information regarding Donald Trump’s recent Covid diagnosis and his speedy recovery from a virus that killed over 200,000 Americans has made me, and even my parents believe, that they are lying to us and information is being withheld. Donald Trump, our president, has said so many foolish things, from not believing in science to telling people to inject bleach as a cure for COVID. How are we suppose to believe a man that spits out lies like he is counting from 1-10, with complete ease. He talked so much about Biden wearing a mask and how foolish he looked, but then not even a week later he got the virus himself.

I think currently, we are living in a decline. Covid-19 will not go away without people contributing to doing their part in social distancing, wearing their masks, as well as possibly shutting down the boarders and our economy. This will never be successful without more money being given to smaller businesses, and those who aren’t able to support themselves during this pandemic.

Hearing “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” makes me chuckle. How are we the greatest nation with such a high number of COVID deaths? How are we the greatest nation with so much gun violence and police brutality across the whole country? How are we the greatest nation if we have so many people paying of student loans, even 20 years after college? How are we the greatest country if the top 0.01% hold more wealth than the rest of the population? That does not make any sense to me. Seeing other countries where the President represents the people, or where they don’t lie about their health conditions to downplay a virus, or lie about the existence of racism, makes me know we aren’t the greatest nation in the world.

I would like to agree and say that we do live in the “Age of Disappointment.” We live in such a divided society, in which one half advocates for different groups of people and try to solve different problems in our society, while the other half makes fun of the first and calls them rude terms. This involves slurs, and when they are called out for what they have said, they call the first group sensitive. I didn’t know it was sensitive to not want to be called words with history and negative connotations to them.

All of the racists murders, such as George Floyed, Breonna Taylor, and Emmett Till, have had a great impact on our society. COVID had a great impact on our society. Our society will be forever changed with COVID, and our society will change soon with the movement of Black Lives Matter. For hundreds of years, people of color have been suffering, and the time for change is way past due. But it is better late than never. People are scared of COVID and people are scared of losing their position in society.

Dolphin42
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Originally posted by butterfly123 on October 13, 2020 20:17

Like Brooks discusses, I think that distrust in society has a lot to do with the way people have been acting. As @razzledazzle8 mentions, members of Gen Z especially have grown up in an age where distrust of the government is normal. It is hard for us to even picture a time where people trusted each other and institutions. This has caused a divide in our country. The economic gaps, racial gaps, and differences between political parties seem almost too large to repair. The points that Brooks made about Donald Trump and the “conditions that brought him to power” being what made him so dangerous reminded me of a quote from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She said that Trump was a “symptom of much deeper problems.” I think this quote helps to prove Brooks’ point that yes, Trump's election has been a big part in increasing the political divide and destabilizing the country, but we have to look at what caused people to want to vote for him. How did our society get so broken that many thought that Donald Trump was the way out, and more importantly can we fix it?

Brooks asks, “are we living through a pivot or a decline?” and the honest answer is that at this point none of us can say. We all hope it is a pivot that will turn into a new golden age of the US as has happened in the past, but at this point it is hard to tell. As @coral27 said, things like “protests, grassroots campaigns, and local efforts to solve issues” show that many people are trying to fix what has been broken, and give me hope for the future.

Like many members of our generation, I find the phrase “the United States is the greatest nation in the world” almost laughable. Being a child in the US school system we were fed rhetoric about America being number 1, and how thankful we should be for our freedom. However the older our generation got, the more clear these lies became. While of course I recognize that I should be thankful for the relative freedom we have in the US, we are certainly not “the greatest”. As @razzledazzle8 said, “the fact that we are still fighting for racial equality is absurd.” And while it is easy to romanticize the past and wish we could go back to what we once had, the truth is that America has never truly been “great”. There has always been discrimination and marginalized groups. In 2020, now more than ever, it is important to advocate for change and try to repair the social trust before it is too late.

I agree with you that we have to put in consideration why people voted for Trump in the first place and what they are trying to gain by having him in power. White supremacy is involved since Trump has made various racial comments in the past regarding undocumented immigrants and now he’s blaming COVD-19 on China instead of stepping in to stop the spread of the virus. His followers believed in everything that he says without educating themselves about these issues. I think that the idea of the United States of America comes from the groups who have never been discriminated against or marginalized in the past and they wish to go back to what we once had so that the problems of racism aren't as acknowledged as they currently are. Either way, it’s good that we are having these conversations and informing others about the urgency to solve these issues.

SlothsPoopOnceAWeek
Chestnuthill, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Originally posted by broskiii on October 14, 2020 00:18

At this moment, in 2020, I believe that many people have chosen to distrust society because of all the matters that are happening around the world. Personally, the moment that Trump was elected president, I stopped putting my trust in society. I did not think that Trump was going to win because I thought that a lot more people would have disagreed with his values and thought that they were preposterous, but I stand corrected. I do 100% believe that I have grown up in the age that Brooks argues is a disappointment because he mentions that nowadays millennials make up only 3.2% of the economy compared to the baby boomers who make up 32%. I can’t believe that the newest members of adults in society can impact the economy so little compared to the baby boomers who are 60-70 years old now still have that much wealth. Wealth is not trickled down and it boggles me that the newest members of society have that small of wealth. Even though I am not a millennial, I can still safely say we are growing up in his age of failure. As razzledazzle8 mentioned, we have to now take everything with a grain of salt, meaning that we have to take into account the credibility of the speaker, if what they are saying is a fact, and if the fact can be provided with evidence. We have to fact-check almost everything the president or the government says because we can no longer trust institutions to provide scientific facts.

I think that this country is currently in a pivot rather than a decline because I believe that America has the potential to change and to change for the better. I want to believe that after Trump is out of office that everything will go back to the way they used to be, but I am 100% sure that this will not happen. I think that it would be interesting to see the gradual change from life with Trump to life without Trump in office. I don’t remember what life was like in the early stages of Obama’s presidency because I was 5 years old, but I’m sure that it was not as hectic as it was back in 2016 with Trump beginning his presidency. Another reason that I think our country is in a pivot is due to people protesting about matters that they care about and are important to society. It makes me proud to see people standing up for what they believe in and how they want to change these systematic ordeals that were predetermined for us without our say into something that can provide equality to all.

I do not believe that America is the greatest nation or has been the greatest because I have seen the way they treat immigrants here in the US and it just frustrates me how they think that we are stealing their jobs and are taking all their resources away. Especially during the pandemic, Asian-Americans were faced with racist comments like “Go eat bats,” or “You are the cause of corona. Go back.” It’s comments like those that make me distrust society and make me dislike America even more than I already do because I just do not understand how you can just blame something on the entire race. For George Floyd, I remember watching the video of his murder on social media and thinking that the police only protect those who are white and are not part of POC. This fear of being attacked and not having the ability to be protected in your own country is what makes the POC community very terrified of living in America sometimes.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s statement because as mentioned before in the article, I do not believe that the government is telling us the whole truth about the pandemic, our international relations, etc. So, because they choose not to give out any information regarding what is happening right now around the world, it makes me disassociate myself with the government and it leads me to think that we are separated; we have no relation to each other other than the fact that we live in the same country. We, as Americans, as razzledazzle8 mentioned, don’t think that we have the power to create change and to say whether or not a proposed law will be beneficial to the people. We just assume that if the president and the other government officials say that it should be a law, then it should be a law because they are supposed to be credible. As you can see, that’s not always that case and it leads me to see myself as an outsider when it comes to government decisions about our country.

I agree with most of the points that you have made, but I would like to talk more about your points about this country being in a pivot rather than a decline. I agree with how it is amazing how people are protesting about issues that they care greatly about, but I would also like to point out how they were portrayed on television. On tv, the protests were seen as violent overall, due to the protests. I, myself, had gone to a protests and experienced how they were completely peaceful, and the only chance of violence I could have seen would have been caused by the police. There were a large amount of police, a lot of which who were blocking the exit from the protests. They were trying to provoke the protesters, but they failed. I did not see this protest on the media, on television. Nor did my parents. But then later at night, I saw a protest that was violent, but it was the police throwing tear gas at the protesters. All of the peaceful protests were hidden from the media, while the police caused violence were on the tv. This could draw people away from the movement, as well as discrediting it. That is what my parents did, although I didn't agree with it. If the protests continue, and they continue peacefully, then they will gain more momentum and gain more supporters, but for now it seems to not be like that.

ilikekiwis
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Names not Realities

Currently, I definitely believe that my generation severely distrusts any government institution. As Brooks explains, Donald Trump constantly “arouses the suspicion that every word and act that surrounds him is a lie and a fraud,” because he refuses to release his tax returns and undermines the state of COVID-19. Even media outlets for news go through constant fact checks because viewers are so worried about the spread of false information when influencing the masses. I think it is good to do so because we are finally bringing light to propaganda on both sides, but especially on the conservative side such as Fox News channels. The amount of false information we are given to lessen the tensions in our country is very much a disappointment. We are given so much to ensure our beliefs that America is a great country, yet many events and atrocities are left out or skimmed over. We know names, not realities. Everyone has heard of the Cold War, but little at our age know what happened and what its effects were. Everyone has heard of the economic crash in 2009 when we were around 5 years old, but many have the privilege of not having felt its effects. Everyone has heard of the name, George Floyd, but still refuse to acknowledge that his death is one of many and is a reality for black people in America every day. After we finally take time to learn about topics like these, we are truly disappointed that they’re not so widely spoken of. America is still a land of opportunity for immigrants and a land of “dazzling achievement,” but the opportunities aren’t as readily given out as they seem. People of color have to fight for these opportunities. There is certainly the possibility that immigrants’ lives would be worse if they remained in their native countries, but that is not always the case. This quarantine caused by COVID-19 has given us more time to research issues relating to social justice, which has amplified the amount of protests and willingness to ask questions like “What can we do?” It’s already accepted that the system has failed, and we are currently in the state of going out of our comfort zones and lifting the silenced. We’re building trust in communities uniting against a common cause: equality, not the freedom so valued by Baby Boomers.
ilikekiwis
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Originally posted by coral27 on October 13, 2020 19:20


Time will tell whether we’re living through a pivot or a decline. I believe that unless we make it a pivot and continue business as usual, it will be a decline. I’m hopeful that we can turn it around. Young people are willing to turn out to protest. But I think the key is the continuation of the fight. This country will never be “done.” There will always be work to do. We cannot stop when the hashtags lose steam; we have to continue demanding change, and, maybe most importantly, voting. Brooks brought up the question of how much energy we have. Like @razzledazzle8, I see protests, grassroots campaigns, and local efforts to solve issues, and I have hope. But I agree with Brooks that we won’t go back to what we had before.


I totally agree that pivots don't happen on their own. We need the continued force of energy to create change. On top of protesting and voting, I like how you said not to stop when the hashtags lose popularity. Now that our Instagram and Twitter feeds are returning to normal, we can't stop perpetuating our own research and helping others become more educated. We shouldn't be getting annoyed when people are still posting information regarding to various social justice issues. Unfortunately, as we saw in the 2016 election, the popular vote doesn't have much of an outcome on who actually becomes President. Still, by voting for Congress and Senate seats, we can put those people in higher positions who are willing to fight on behalf of us and amplify our voices. Hopefully, a better Senate and Congress, if we do not get Trump out of office, can continue the pivot that we have hopefully started.

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