posts 16 - 30 of 36
Regina_Phalange
Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 16

Inequality and distrust

I greatly believe that people today are operating with distrust in society. We have been able to analyze America, and realize that it was founded on bloodshed and inequality, not the idea that everyone deserves equal rights. Realizing that the system has been created to keep certain people from prospering, has led to the distrust of the government and society. People are now angry, because since the civil rights movement, people have fought for change, but now with Trump as president, it has become apparent that we haven’t come as far as we should have.

I believe that we are living through a pivot. I have more trust in generation Z than in some members of other generations, and I believe that people are fed up. This cycle of inequality has gone on far enough, and I believe that many members of the younger generation also see that. I completely agree with razzledazzle8 that through protests, and pushing government officials to take action, we are making it clear what should be done. The younger generation has many different ways of educating themselves on issues, and I believe that there are many great people in higher positions who are fighting for change now. Ultimately, I believe that our generation has the potential to improve this country.

When I hear that the US is the best, I roll my eyes. I do this because it is ridiculous that the US still has so much inequality. There are police terrorizing people, income inequality, and big corporations still polluting the earth like crazy. There are so many issues that boil down to equality, and people just not wanting people of color to succeed or even be heard. I do not think equality should be negotiable, so therefore the US is not perfect, and I will not act like it is. Schools portray it that way, but it’s just not true.

I have grown up in the age of disappointment. Now that we have realized how messed up this country is, it makes staying hopeful pretty difficult. The article went into the US’s issue with depression and anxiety, and I believe that along with other factors, that may also stem from so many issues that are going on, and one feeling like what we are doing is not enough, and if the government won’t help, people will continue struggling.

I agree that we see ourselves as outsiders to the system. Brooks stated that we have come to see institutions as evil, even loathing them. I think that definitely stems from the distrust we feel due to inequality, and even a feeling of helplessness. I also think that people see themselves as outsiders because they believe that they had no part in creating the system which harms us, and therefore they don’t feel it’s their fault.

I believe that Covid and the killing of George Floyd have amplified the distrust many Americans feel towards the government. Watching how the president of the United States refuses to denounce white supremacy, and denies systemic racism, makes people of color in the US feel very afraid, and unprotected by the government. Seeing the same president hold huge rallies right after being hospitalized with Covid is also unsettling because Covid does not go away, and the president doesn’t take it seriously. This is all in addition to the fact that Breonna Taylor’s murderers are free, and despite protests happening daily throughout the country, the president and others portray the police as heroes and protesters as the bad guys. These issues keep piling up, because the government won’t take action. People are just going to become more angry and speak up even more.

beantown9
WEST ROXBURY, MA, US
Posts: 11

People are losing trust in our society

I think people are in fact losing trust in our society today. I think the way we're living in our society has had an impact on it. A lot of people don't like our current president and i don't either. One of the reasons people are losing trust and hope in our society because of our President. Many people including myself, don't agree with much of the things he says. Another reason relating to politics is the debate. After watching the debate, it changed the way i viewed both candidates. I thought they acted immature especially for a position to be in charge of our country and i think the debate lowered peoples hope's for the next president as many people thought the same thing after watching. After reading the article i think we are living in a decline because of all the stuff that has happened, hitting us like a hurricane like Brooks said. These events that happened and are still going on are Black lives matter movement, activist students on campus, and the Corona virus pandemic. The way we are living in society right now, in a decline is impacted by more than just the events i listed, but i think they still had an impact on our society. When Brooks said "For centuries, America was the greatest success on earth", i think of how our society has changed with all of the stuff that has happened. One big thing that comes to mind is how i think trump influenced that quote. What i mean by that is, he's not making a lot of Americans happy and definitely impacted the way America is viewed. I think part of me is growing up in the age of disappointment because i think of the age of disappointment of more the period from around 2015 to now. I think before Trump won the election, many people were happy or even satisfied with our government and i was younger Obama was elected and when he ran, but i know he was doing a good job from when i remember my parents would take about politics and our government. I'm not huge into politics, i wish i was more into them, but i still know Trump has upset a lot of Americans and lowered their satisfaction with our government. I agree Yuval Levin because a lot of people have a greater instinct to say they're failing us because of our trust lowering. people start to try and help less as they lose their trust in our society. Covid, the killing of George Floyd, and Black Lives Matter movement are related to this because they add to the type of year we've been having. I think it also adds to people distrusting society more like Brooks was saying.

mcsd153
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Hopelessness

I cannot imagine a society in which everyone I meet can be trusted, let alone trust a society broadly and assume that it has my best interests in mind. I don't think I speak for the whole of Gen Z, but that is alarming to me. I think our country as a whole, (especially my generation) has been let down so many times by our government, and has witnessed what feels like more bad than good, that trust in our nation feels impossible. I think those that don't understand this perspective are either oblivious or extremely privileged (things have been going splendidly for the wealthy white top 10% these past few decades). This distrust comes from a feeling of hopelessness that has been building up over years.

This feels like a decline, and less of a pivot. Maybe that is also coming from a place of hopelessness, but I cannot imagine this divide within American society closing any time soon. However, as @coral27 said “Time will tell whether we’re living through a pivot or a decline. I believe that unless we make it a pivot […] 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.” They are right. This generation is full of fighters, and young people who will not back down until they see a genuine change- not just a masquerade put on by governmental officials, pretending everything is okay. However, I really question the use of the word “decline”. Was America ever great? Donald Trump ran on the pretense that America had some glorious peak, and the people of America let it slip. Were our eyes closed? Did we blink at the wrong moment and miss it? Brooks refers to this great period in American history as well, and it makes me wonder, great for who? Because in the 50’s and 60’s, a time period that Brooks says highlighted “family stability, widespread prosperity, and cultural cohesion”, segregation was legal until mid-decade (and racism did not just disappear immediately after). America was “great” for people like Donald Trump- rich, white, and oblivious.

One thing I do agree with Brooks on is this generation living in an “age of disappointment.” I think a clear example of this is our incompetent bigot of a president. I remember the day after the election I woke up, checked the news, and my heart sank. It was the first time I remember feeling like there was absolutely nothing I could do. It started off as sadness, but over time, sad turned to hopeless, and hopeless turned to numb. Now I automatically expect the worst to happen, when tragedy hits, I quite often feel nothing. Covid-19 has been so difficult, and life changing in so many ways, but to be quite honest, I don't really process any of those feelings. Bad things will continue to happen, I cannot trust my government or anyone else to do anything about it, so I just have to brush it off and move on. It is extremely depressing, and I wish I had more hope. The fact that we currently have to chose between two old white men, both with racist pasts and sexual assault alligation(s) against them to be the leader of our country is horrifying.

However I do have a glimmer of hope, and it lies in my generation's fight for racial justice. The murders of innocent black lives in 2020 such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have unified this country just as much as it has divided it. People of color, especially BIPOC have been suffering in this country for hundreds of years, and the BLM movement has unified those who want to fight for a change. It makes me smile knowing that the protests and petitions are actually making differences around the nation. You are either for or against, there is no in between. I am trying to be more hopeful, but I am constantly sobered by acts of sheer racism, or our disgusting president and the fact that he somehow has supporters still (how?????) and remember that we have so far to go as a nation.

Hector_Zeroni
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

Diffidentia in gubernaculum

One day, in one of my classes, we were talking about things unique to America, and someone mentioned that the amount of distrust in the government is a mostly American thing. This resonated with me deeply knowing that this is true. The idea of opposing Big Government has been ingrained in American culture since the days before the American Revolution. It’s why when the Founding Fathers were forming the government that we see today, they did it with the intent of making sure it will never become too powerful. It’s why we have the three different branches of the U.S government, and it’s why many people try to defend things such as the 2nd amendment as bearing arms will protect people in the event the government goes completely tyrannical. Within the last 4 or 5 decades, however, distrusting the government has skyrocketed amongst the American people as a result of events such as the Vietnam War, Watergate Scandal, signing of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act and so on. Being exposed to how corrupt and power hungry the government has become has certainly influenced the way people are operating today. Americans are less likely to listen to what the government is saying, and the state of the nation during this pandemic has exemplified this to a tee. Many people refuse to wear masks, or even remain physically distant from one another because the government and the scientists have told them to do so. They don’t want the government to boss them around and tell them how to live their lives. This sentiment resonated within the American people back when the Spanish Flu was ravaging the nation over a century ago, and even so people are unwilling to learn from the mistakes of the past. The BLM protests are a response to what many people see as a major problem in the United States, and many people believe the government should do more to tackle the issue of systemic racism and police brutality.


I believe that the United States is going through some sort of decline, and a lot of that comes down to how deeply divided we are. There was the video I saw on Youtube from a channel called “Real Life Lore,” and that video discussed a book written by Aleksandr Dugin called, “Foundations of Geopolitics”. The book was essentially a how-to on how Russia will be able to maintain global dominance (I feel as though it should be mentioned that the book was published in 1997 and Vladimir Putin became President of Russia in the year 2000). The book mentions that Russia, at least militarily speaking, will not be able to take on the military might of the United States. That, coupled with the U.S’s geography, makes it nearly impossible to invade the country. Dugin mentions how to defeat the United States, and it is something that US politicians, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have warned about. Dugin states that the only way the United States can truly be defeated is if it is destroyed from within. The idea of Americans being so deeply involved in politics is almost a foreign concept to many Europeans (I’m not saying Europeans don’t care about politics, but it is not at the level which Americans are at). Many people from all sides of the political spectrum tend to demonize those who don’t share similar political views, and this is unhealthy for a democracy. This only adds on to the distrust we share of the government as we’ll be unwilling to listen to the other side, and we may just resort to calling them fascists or communists.


I disagree with Brooks’s argument that we’re living in an “age of disappointment” and that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. I don’t believe we live in an age of disappointment, or at least not anymore, as it looks like Millennials and Zoomers are at least trying to address the problems that face our nation today, and it looks like they’re taking action to ensure a better future for the generations that’ll come after. We live in a world where information is widely available, and we can hear about what is happening around the world in a matter of seconds. While there are some things that I deem to be very disappointing, such as the fact we’ve just kind of accepted that the government can spy on us at any point, overall I feel as though we are not at the age of disappointment. The United States isn’t the greatest nation on Earth, but it is far from the worst. Unlike a lot of other countries, we can still voice our opinions, and we can enjoy things that many people around the world can only dream of experiencing. Yes, there are a lot of problems with the United States, such as economic inequality and racism, but at least it seems as though our generation is addressing these issues and doing what they can to bring an end to these problems.


Back in 2015, when Trump first announced that he was running for president, many people laughed it off as nothing but a joke. The Mainstream Media believed that Hilary Clinton was going to win the election in a landslide. This did not end up being the case. I remember when I first heard that Trump won, and I kept wondering why people, including my father, would even vote for him in the first place. Considering his lack of any political experience, as well as his derogatory statements towards many people, I could never imagine that someone like him would be voted into the position of President of the United States. Looking back at his campaign, I can see why there are those who thought Trump was the better pick over Hilary Clinton. One could argue that Political Apathy is the primary reason for Clinton losing the election, but I think it is also important to look at how Trump presented himself as a candidate. He considered himself to be an outsider: someone who was going to “drain the swamp” and fight the political establishment. He doesn’t act like the typical politician and to some, this is very appealing. Many people today are tired of the establishment and wish for great change to occur that will benefit the populace far more than the wealthy and those in power. Many saw Trump as the way to end the foothold that the establishment, who are prominent members of both the Democratic and the Republican parties, has had on the American Government. During the 2016 election, Trump even went as far as to mention that Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic Nomination by Democrats themselves. This may have pushed some Sanders supporters to vote for Trump, even if they don’t agree with his policies. Seeing ourselves as the outsiders has only further built this idea that the government, at least in its current form, can’t be trusted.


People like Andrew Yang have mentioned that Trump is not the cause of our problems, but he is merely a symptom of the disease that has been building in communities all across the United States for decades. Our government has failed to effectively respond to this disease causing the lives of many to be worse off. Because of this, Americans greatly distrust the government. If we are to rebuild trust of the government among Americans, we must make sure they fix the problems that face us today.

Bumblebee
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Disappointed, But Not Surprised

I do think people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they distrust society, and I think a large part of that distrust stems from the media. Every day there is some awful new story about a rape, shooting, or worse. Then comes the political update, where we watch as the core principles of our democracy are butchered by our leaders. Feel good stories are few and far between. How could people possibly trust in their fellow Americans when they are presented with those images every day? When each story leaves you thinking no one could possibly top that evil, until you watch the next day’s news cycle? Through the media, as Brooks says, “the cancer of distrust has spread to every vital organ.”

Though it scares me to say it, I believe we are living through a decline. With the dangerous precedents President Trump has set in the past four years, as well as with the lifelong appointments of certain Supreme Court justices that wish to overturn historic, progressive SCOTUS decisions, it seems to me that our democracy is headed for a downturn. Seeing people band together to protest injustice in our country gives me hope, but ultimately deciding to create substantial change is up to the people we put in office, and based on what I’ve seen from politicians in the past four years, they cannot put their parties aside long enough to do anything of the sort. However, I do believe that voting is the best way to combat this. Starting with this upcoming presidential election, I have hope that this could be the beginning of a turnaround for our nation that reminds politicians their first responsibility is to the American people, not their party leadership. But since the results of the presidential election are still very uncertain, and only one candidate would support such an ideal, as of now, it is my opinion that we are living through a decline.

When I hear that the United States is the greatest nation in the world, I agree with @crunchysnowball when they say that at one point we were a leading country in terms of the economy, progress, and innovation, but that we are decades behind in respect to social progress. During the Industrial Revolution, the United States had a greater manufacturing output than any other country in the world, and we made incredible technological advancements. We were the first country to put a man on the moon. Yet, in 2020, unarmed black men and women are still being murdered simply for the color of their skin. That doesn’t make us the greatest country in the world. That makes us a racist country, and until we acknowledge our racist history, we will not be able to make any progress, which is necessary if we truly want to say that we are the greatest country in the world.

I do believe I’ve grown up in the “age of disappointment.” I believe all of Gen Z is used to being disappointed by our political leaders, and what most clearly demonstrates this idea for me is an example from my own life. My mother keeps very up to date on the actions of Trump and his administration, which means every day, she has some disgusting new example of what Trump has said or done. She is constantly appalled by his actions, saying that they’re “unprecedented,” and she “can’t believe he would go this far.” She is shocked by my typical response of a “That’s horrible,” and going back to what I was doing. For her, a president doing any one of the things Trump has tried, like saying he won’t peacefully transition power or firing anyone who disagrees with him, is unheard of. She has never seen it before in her lifetime. But Trump is the first president who I was old enough to observe in office. He is all I have known. So I am not surprised when I hear he called American soldiers who gave their lives in service of our country “losers,” or that he trash talked dead American heroes on Twitter. I am disappointed, but not surprised.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s argument because logically, it makes sense. When people believe that a group or organization is doing a good job, it is natural that they want to be a part of that group and associate themselves with the positive. Therefore, when people trust in institutions and believe that they are doing a good job, it makes sense that they would ask, “What can we do,” and include themselves as a part of the institution. However, if they distrust the institution, or feel that they are doing a bad job, people would not consider themselves a part of it because they don’t want to be associated with anything doing a bad job, so they create an “us vs. them” mentality.

I believe COVID and the killing of George Floyd have highlighted the systematic problems in our country, which makes it easy for people to become hyperfixated on those shortcomings and become even more distrustful of our society. Before those events, most Americans knew that racism was a problem, but it was easy for them to look away and pretend it wasn’t happening. After George Floyd, police brutality was pushed to the front of everyone’s vision, making it impossible to ignore. This means they had to acknowledge the problem existed, which contributed to their already growing distrust. As for COVID, I think it has shown how truly corrupt and incompetent our leadership is that they are more concerned with their approval ratings than making sure the American people have updated and accurate information regarding a global pandemic, which only serves to make the people more distrustful. Both of these crises have made people fearful about the state of our nation and what’s to come.

alberic25
boston, massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

The Age of Disappointment

It is very clear that people feel an extreme distrust towards society. There are many reasons for this distrust. The strongest of these reasons is the state of the world today. Our generation has grown up in what Brooks calls “The Age of Disappointment”. Why should we trust a society that doesn’t truly support us? Trust has to be earned and we haven’t experienced any events that made us feel reason to trust society. Citizens as well as the government have constantly let us down, this is what causes the distrust. Brook said in the passage “Trust is the ratio between the number of people who betray you and the number of people who remain faithful to you”, and I think this is a very important thing to think about when you think about society today and our generation’s attitude towards it.

I believe that the question of living in a pivot or decline is really up to us and what we do in the future. Right now we are in the process of finding out the answer to this question. I hope that we can make the future a pivot because I believe that if we dont start trying we will be stuck in a decline. However, I am hopeful because it is clear that people really want to make a change and I believe if we continue to push we can come together and create a better future.

The idea of America being “dazzling” or “the greatest nation in the world” is an arguable statement. America in the past had the reputation of being a land of freedom and a place to excel and get money. However, behind all that America hides what really is going on. America, especially right now, has made many fatal mistakes. This can be interpreted literally with the COVID deaths and figuratively by the inequalities and injustices. People living in America right now are not happy at all. The article discusses how Black Americans are not satisfied with the way they are treated. How can a nation be great when it still discriminates against people because of their skin color?

I believe that we are living in an “Age of Disappointment”. I do not remember a time when I felt faith in the government. The stats in the document clearly show that gen z has the most distrust in society. I believe this is because the way society has treated us. People have no faith in anything anymore. Horrible things are happening all around us and there is not much we can do to stop it. We try to make change however it is blocked and pushed away and deemed as criminal.

I agree with Levin's statement on trust. If you don’t trust your government you are not going to want to associate with them. Using words like “they” places us outside of the government and away from the choices they make.

COVID and George Floyd are very important. They are examples of how the government has failed us. COVID is a global pandemic however, it seems like only America is being so ignorant about the disease. The government should take control however they seem to be neglecting us. We feel the same way about George Floyd because how can we trust a system that has failed so many people. We are afraid of what our country will come to if we keep experiencing these failures and hardship. Fear causes people to act up and do more violent actions.


Hector_Zeroni
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

Originally posted by Dolphin42 on October 14, 2020 13:58

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.

While I disagree that we live in an age of disappointment, I do agree with you that information can be easily manipulated due to the amount of technology we have. Despite access to information being readily available, we’re far more likely to believe anything that we hear about. We like to have our information presented in a quick and appealing format. While it is easier to share information across the world, technology has also made it harder for us to to discern fake news of any kind. We’re more likely to read articles with clickbaity titles, and those articles could present false information. Politicians have used this to their advantage. Using Trump as an example, he recently posted an ad claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci approved of the way in which Trump has handled the Coronavirus, but Fauci had to denounce those claims himself stating that the clip of him was taken out of context. Trump also once posted a video of Biden dancing to N.W.A’s F*** the Police. These videos, while obviously false, can convince many people that they are actually real. Failure to do more research leads to many people being very disappointed in the politicians they appoint into office. They simply trust that ads will be enough to explain a politician’s stance on a certain issue, only to realize that they may actually hold a view opposite of what they believe. This may further lead to why people distrust the government.

alberic25
boston, massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by Bumblebee on October 14, 2020 20:11

I do think people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they distrust society, and I think a large part of that distrust stems from the media. Every day there is some awful new story about a rape, shooting, or worse. Then comes the political update, where we watch as the core principles of our democracy are butchered by our leaders. Feel good stories are few and far between. How could people possibly trust in their fellow Americans when they are presented with those images every day? When each story leaves you thinking no one could possibly top that evil, until you watch the next day’s news cycle? Through the media, as Brooks says, “the cancer of distrust has spread to every vital organ.”

Though it scares me to say it, I believe we are living through a decline. With the dangerous precedents President Trump has set in the past four years, as well as with the lifelong appointments of certain Supreme Court justices that wish to overturn historic, progressive SCOTUS decisions, it seems to me that our democracy is headed for a downturn. Seeing people band together to protest injustice in our country gives me hope, but ultimately deciding to create substantial change is up to the people we put in office, and based on what I’ve seen from politicians in the past four years, they cannot put their parties aside long enough to do anything of the sort. However, I do believe that voting is the best way to combat this. Starting with this upcoming presidential election, I have hope that this could be the beginning of a turnaround for our nation that reminds politicians their first responsibility is to the American people, not their party leadership. But since the results of the presidential election are still very uncertain, and only one candidate would support such an ideal, as of now, it is my opinion that we are living through a decline.

When I hear that the United States is the greatest nation in the world, I agree with @crunchysnowball when they say that at one point we were a leading country in terms of the economy, progress, and innovation, but that we are decades behind in respect to social progress. During the Industrial Revolution, the United States had a greater manufacturing output than any other country in the world, and we made incredible technological advancements. We were the first country to put a man on the moon. Yet, in 2020, unarmed black men and women are still being murdered simply for the color of their skin. That doesn’t make us the greatest country in the world. That makes us a racist country, and until we acknowledge our racist history, we will not be able to make any progress, which is necessary if we truly want to say that we are the greatest country in the world.

I do believe I’ve grown up in the “age of disappointment.” I believe all of Gen Z is used to being disappointed by our political leaders, and what most clearly demonstrates this idea for me is an example from my own life. My mother keeps very up to date on the actions of Trump and his administration, which means every day, she has some disgusting new example of what Trump has said or done. She is constantly appalled by his actions, saying that they’re “unprecedented,” and she “can’t believe he would go this far.” She is shocked by my typical response of a “That’s horrible,” and going back to what I was doing. For her, a president doing any one of the things Trump has tried, like saying he won’t peacefully transition power or firing anyone who disagrees with him, is unheard of. She has never seen it before in her lifetime. But Trump is the first president who I was old enough to observe in office. He is all I have known. So I am not surprised when I hear he called American soldiers who gave their lives in service of our country “losers,” or that he trash talked dead American heroes on Twitter. I am disappointed, but not surprised.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s argument because logically, it makes sense. When people believe that a group or organization is doing a good job, it is natural that they want to be a part of that group and associate themselves with the positive. Therefore, when people trust in institutions and believe that they are doing a good job, it makes sense that they would ask, “What can we do,” and include themselves as a part of the institution. However, if they distrust the institution, or feel that they are doing a bad job, people would not consider themselves a part of it because they don’t want to be associated with anything doing a bad job, so they create an “us vs. them” mentality.

I believe COVID and the killing of George Floyd have highlighted the systematic problems in our country, which makes it easy for people to become hyperfixated on those shortcomings and become even more distrustful of our society. Before those events, most Americans knew that racism was a problem, but it was easy for them to look away and pretend it wasn’t happening. After George Floyd, police brutality was pushed to the front of everyone’s vision, making it impossible to ignore. This means they had to acknowledge the problem existed, which contributed to their already growing distrust. As for COVID, I think it has shown how truly corrupt and incompetent our leadership is that they are more concerned with their approval ratings than making sure the American people have updated and accurate information regarding a global pandemic, which only serves to make the people more distrustful. Both of these crises have made people fearful about the state of our nation and what’s to come.

The title "Disappointed but not Surprised" is something that I think is important. This phrase is said frequently regarding many different instances that we're experienced. For example the debate with Trump and Biden. Many people stating how they were extremely disappointed however not surprised. This brings up the idea of how the only way in which American's trust their governments is in a negative sense. We always expect the worst and we are almost always correct by doing so. We have experienced so much disappointment that we are used to it, it doesn't surprise us anymore. I think this is genuinely sad to think about because we should be able to expect the best and be optimistic, however it doesn't work out that way

coral27
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by mcsd153 on October 14, 2020 19:43

I cannot imagine a society in which everyone I meet can be trusted, let alone trust a society broadly and assume that it has my best interests in mind. I don't think I speak for the whole of Gen Z, but that is alarming to me. I think our country as a whole, (especially my generation) has been let down so many times by our government, and has witnessed what feels like more bad than good, that trust in our nation feels impossible. I think those that don't understand this perspective are either oblivious or extremely privileged (things have been going splendidly for the wealthy white top 10% these past few decades). This distrust comes from a feeling of hopelessness that has been building up over years.

This feels like a decline, and less of a pivot. Maybe that is also coming from a place of hopelessness, but I cannot imagine this divide within American society closing any time soon. However, as @coral27 said “Time will tell whether we’re living through a pivot or a decline. I believe that unless we make it a pivot […] 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.” They are right. This generation is full of fighters, and young people who will not back down until they see a genuine change- not just a masquerade put on by governmental officials, pretending everything is okay. However, I really question the use of the word “decline”. Was America ever great? Donald Trump ran on the pretense that America had some glorious peak, and the people of America let it slip. Were our eyes closed? Did we blink at the wrong moment and miss it? Brooks refers to this great period in American history as well, and it makes me wonder, great for who? Because in the 50’s and 60’s, a time period that Brooks says highlighted “family stability, widespread prosperity, and cultural cohesion”, segregation was legal until mid-decade (and racism did not just disappear immediately after). America was “great” for people like Donald Trump- rich, white, and oblivious.

One thing I do agree with Brooks on is this generation living in an “age of disappointment.” I think a clear example of this is our incompetent bigot of a president. I remember the day after the election I woke up, checked the news, and my heart sank. It was the first time I remember feeling like there was absolutely nothing I could do. It started off as sadness, but over time, sad turned to hopeless, and hopeless turned to numb. Now I automatically expect the worst to happen, when tragedy hits, I quite often feel nothing. Covid-19 has been so difficult, and life changing in so many ways, but to be quite honest, I don't really process any of those feelings. Bad things will continue to happen, I cannot trust my government or anyone else to do anything about it, so I just have to brush it off and move on. It is extremely depressing, and I wish I had more hope. The fact that we currently have to chose between two old white men, both with racist pasts and sexual assault alligation(s) against them to be the leader of our country is horrifying.

However I do have a glimmer of hope, and it lies in my generation's fight for racial justice. The murders of innocent black lives in 2020 such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have unified this country just as much as it has divided it. People of color, especially BIPOC have been suffering in this country for hundreds of years, and the BLM movement has unified those who want to fight for a change. It makes me smile knowing that the protests and petitions are actually making differences around the nation. You are either for or against, there is no in between. I am trying to be more hopeful, but I am constantly sobered by acts of sheer racism, or our disgusting president and the fact that he somehow has supporters still (how?????) and remember that we have so far to go as a nation.

Thank you for bringing up the question of the word “decline.” I wanted to get into this more in my post when I talked about the disparity of experiences. It’s reasonable that people who have historically been discriminated against, given false promises, lied to, etc., such as African Americans, do not trust (and did not trust) the government to have their best interests in mind. So is this moment just a time of pulling back the curtains? It’s hard to know as young people whether issues like corruption and general unrest have gotten much worse. When I hear “Make America Great Again,” like you, I think, “ummm, am I missing something?” I couldn’t agree more with your statement, “America was “great” for people like Donald Trump- rich, white and oblivious.

I feel the same way about disappointment and numbness. Honestly, every time that something I’ve been looking forward to has been cancelled, my family has been sadder about it than I am. It’s kind of funny, in a bad way. Our generation has lost our sense of “normal.” Speaking of numbness, for around ¼ of our lives, we have had a president who shatters all norms. These four years have been around ⅓ of the portion of our lives that we can remember, and probably over ½ the portion of our lives during which we’ve been aware of politics. I think this could be setting us up for a dangerous level of apathy. Instead, many young people have been speaking up in protest of what we know is wrong. That does give me hope.

But humans’ adaptability still worries me. We’ve been able to get used to Covid-19 and everything that comes with it. Sure, it hasn’t been easy, but imagine what you would have thought if you’d been told on March 1st that in October, we’d all be wearing masks everywhere and would be going to school at home. (These measures are necessary and I support them, I just wanted to provide an example of how adaptable people are). I really hope that we won’t continue to adjust to and accept awful things happening, especially in politics. For example, polarization, direct election interference, and the plot to kidnap a democratically elected governor and start a civil war are extremely worrying and it is absolutely necessary that we do not adjust to these things or consider them to be normal. We have to continue to be horrified and indignant.

lavagirl
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 3

Fear and Distrust in US

I do agree with Brooks; a lot of people are operating in this moment as they seem to be because they do not have trust in society. For example, 60% of people said that they wouldn’t take the vaccine for Corona if it gets released. The constant lies coming from the White House and the whole concept of “fake news” has made people not only distrust the government, but distrust the news and media in general. There is so much technology at the tips of our fingers and things like deep fakes are becoming more and more prominent in our society.

I disagree with the statement that we have grown up in the “age of disappointment”. Since the beginning, America has been a disappointment. All we Americans have had to go on was our reputation and now that that’s gone so the rest of the world is waking up to the fact that America, although it does have a lot of strengths, is just as flawed as every other country. People don’t see America as this big, shining beacon of hope anymore.

To answer Brooks’ question “are we living through a pivot or a decline” I would say that relies on the results of America’s next presidential election. America is known as a leader and so if America goes in one direction, there is a pretty big chance that others will follow suit.

I believe that the outrage over all of this would not be as big if Covid had never happened. Being in quarantine, there isn’t much to do so people started focusing on the news a lot more. Fear has everything to do with it. People fear the unknown and so it is much easier to ignore the severity of everything going on in the world than actually having to deal with it.

soleilmagic
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

The Decline of this Time

When I 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,” I think that America may have been the greatest nation in the world in the past but now in this current age we are nowhere near the “greatest” even this year alone there are so many things wrong with our country that no one seems to be changing. Since I am only 17 I only know so much about the world and politics of course I have always known who the president is but for me i have only lived through three presidents, of course I was always curious about politics or what I even thought politics to be and my parents were good at answering my questions, I don’t think I was sheltered from issues this country has had but mainly my family just didn’t discuss them so I wasn’t made aware of them, not until maybe just two years ago did I start forming my own opinions and understanding the country, its issues, and politics. I’m thankful for having taken AP American Government and Politics last year because that taught me so much and allowed me to form my own opinion. I personally believe that with the way not only our country but the world, is headed, that I have grown up, as Brooks argues, in the “age of disappointment”?, our planet is dying, our country is divided and won’t listen to one another. All that is done is arguing and I don’t see an end to it, this isn’t what the founding fathers wanted when our country was founded we were never meant to be divided.

I agree with what @ 239bid0073 said, that, “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.” I think it is good that we are working together in order to make a change, the more voices the louder we are and the more they can hear us to actually make those changes. This goes back to the country being divided because even today the two presidential candidates have completely different views about what is going on right now in the country, that being the BLM movements and also the fact that our planet is dying and that something needs to be done about it. I also agree with @ broskiii because it is hard to hear that America is the greatest country in the world, because honestly it is not, we millennials and Gen Z are left to clean up the mess that the boomers and Gen X have left for us and I personally don’t see a breakthrough in the future, there's no sight of compromise between either side of politics and someone will always be unhappy.

ThankYouFive
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

A Decline from "Greatness"

Society should be made up of individuals who trust each other enough to be willing to make sacrifices for each other. But, as this article explains, and as the events currently happening in America demonstrate, our society is not fulfilling that important purpose. Many people are far more willing to potentially spread a deadly virus to others than they are to wear a small mask over their nose and mouth, simply because the mask is slightly uncomfortable at times, and because they think the Coronavirus isn’t a threat to them like it is to others. Unfortunately, this lack of empathy is hardly surprising due to constant lies and conspiracy theories being spread not only by random strangers on the internet, but also some of the most powerful politicians and news sources in the country.

To answer the question posed by David Brooks, I strongly believe that America is experiencing a decline rather than a pivot. As pessimistic as this opinion is, I think that it is being supported day by day as we hear more news of voter suppression, government corruption, and blatant racism carried out by the institutions we are meant to trust the most. While the outcome of the presidential election could potentially result in a pivot, the social and economic damage that our country has faced during the past year has already created a massive rift between the American people, and will certainly leave a near permanent impact on America. I agree with Brooks when he said, “I see no scenario in which we return to being the nation we were in 1965, with a cohesive national ethos, a clear national establishment, trusted central institutions, and a pop-culture landscape in which people overwhelmingly watch the same shows and talked about the same things.” The way our society has changed since then, with innovations like social media and instant communication, has resulted in a culture where we are expected to build connections with people and establish communities online when such people are not actually their entire selves, but a series of carefully curated posts and planned messages meant to retain a perfect image. It is practically impossible to trust people in such a superficial system.

I don’t think America is the greatest nation in the world, and I don’t think there is any one nation that is better than all others. However, we are certainly not meeting our full potential. With constant partisan division, real progress takes an eternity to be made, and when such progress is achieved, it is hardly at the level people hope for or expect.

I found it particularly powerful when mcsd153 said, “Was America ever great? Donald Trump ran on the pretense that America had some glorious peak, and the people of America let it slip.” It seems that many people, especially Trump supporters, forget that nothing, not even our own country, is objectively great. The years prior to the civil rights movement were probably amazing for racist white Americans, but the opposite for everyone else. I think that Trump uses such rhetoric to imply to older white conservatives that it is not their fault that America fell from “greatness,” but rather the fault of democrats, immigrants, and people of color. This type of language was incredibly successful in 2016, and certainly helped Trump win the presidency. I also found it interesting when mcsd153 called out David Brooks for his apparent bias, and after reading the essay again I absolutely noticed that Brooks, a 59 year old white man, is not immune to his own biases, such as the importance he places on a traditional American family structure, which has certainly evolved since the time when Brooks was growing up.

I would say that I have grown up in an age of disappointment, because I feel like the government and other institutions usually make me angry and frustrated, rather than enthusiastic and hopeful.

I agree with Yuval Levin’s statements that it can often feel like “they’re failing us.” However, I disagree with the belief that such an opinion is extremely negative. I honestly believe that many current politicians have failed us, but rather than giving up and complaining, we have an obligation as American citizens to get rid of such politicians and elect better ones. “They’re failing us” is not a cry of defeat, but rather a call for action.

I think that current events absolutely demonstrate that Brooks’ statements in his essay are true. For example, the killing of George Floyd shows that the police department, one of America’s most important institutions, is not the steady, trustworthy institution that we all need. It is a very bad sign that the police, who we should be able to trust, only make themselves less worthy of our trust and respect.

The loss of basic trust in each other and in our institutions represents serious decline in America, and although we have the opportunity to make some changes in November, I can only hope that America can and will recover in the future.


Facinghistorystudent
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Country in disarray

As a seventeen year old, there is not much say that I have in politics, however, I still have a voice and eyes to sit back and observe. In my short amount of time spent on this earth so far, I have witnessed things that most people would have never seen in their lifetime. I have seen innocent men and women die because of their skin color, I have seen humans do damage to the environment, I have seen a pandemic take over the world, and I have seen the government do nothing about it. I watch these “brave politicians” on the news and wonder how some people can actually put their faith in some of these people. They fail us everyday, that it is almost expected of them. Brooke said it perfectly himself that we are in “the age of disappointment.” I believe that people operate nowadays in certain ways because they have fear of the government and society. People have been starting to rise up and fight for the injustices, however, they still stop themselves from going too far because of the power society holds against them. In the article, Brooke says, “They flooded the ravines that had opened up in American society and exposed every flaw,” implying that this instinct of fear is exactly what sparked people to fight against it. Bumblebee said it perfectly in their response saying that all these things that we have witnessed in our lives are so important to the development of this country whether we know it or not. Bumblebee also said that it is still events like the ones we are living through that prove that there are so many reasons to fear society.
ThankYouFive
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Originally posted by Hector_Zeroni on October 14, 2020 19:44

One day, in one of my classes, we were talking about things unique to America, and someone mentioned that the amount of distrust in the government is a mostly American thing. This resonated with me deeply knowing that this is true. The idea of opposing Big Government has been ingrained in American culture since the days before the American Revolution. It’s why when the Founding Fathers were forming the government that we see today, they did it with the intent of making sure it will never become too powerful. It’s why we have the three different branches of the U.S government, and it’s why many people try to defend things such as the 2nd amendment as bearing arms will protect people in the event the government goes completely tyrannical. Within the last 4 or 5 decades, however, distrusting the government has skyrocketed amongst the American people as a result of events such as the Vietnam War, Watergate Scandal, signing of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act and so on. Being exposed to how corrupt and power hungry the government has become has certainly influenced the way people are operating today. Americans are less likely to listen to what the government is saying, and the state of the nation during this pandemic has exemplified this to a tee. Many people refuse to wear masks, or even remain physically distant from one another because the government and the scientists have told them to do so. They don’t want the government to boss them around and tell them how to live their lives. This sentiment resonated within the American people back when the Spanish Flu was ravaging the nation over a century ago, and even so people are unwilling to learn from the mistakes of the past. The BLM protests are a response to what many people see as a major problem in the United States, and many people believe the government should do more to tackle the issue of systemic racism and police brutality.


I believe that the United States is going through some sort of decline, and a lot of that comes down to how deeply divided we are. There was the video I saw on Youtube from a channel called “Real Life Lore,” and that video discussed a book written by Aleksandr Dugin called, “Foundations of Geopolitics”. The book was essentially a how-to on how Russia will be able to maintain global dominance (I feel as though it should be mentioned that the book was published in 1997 and Vladimir Putin became President of Russia in the year 2000). The book mentions that Russia, at least militarily speaking, will not be able to take on the military might of the United States. That, coupled with the U.S’s geography, makes it nearly impossible to invade the country. Dugin mentions how to defeat the United States, and it is something that US politicians, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have warned about. Dugin states that the only way the United States can truly be defeated is if it is destroyed from within. The idea of Americans being so deeply involved in politics is almost a foreign concept to many Europeans (I’m not saying Europeans don’t care about politics, but it is not at the level which Americans are at). Many people from all sides of the political spectrum tend to demonize those who don’t share similar political views, and this is unhealthy for a democracy. This only adds on to the distrust we share of the government as we’ll be unwilling to listen to the other side, and we may just resort to calling them fascists or communists.


I disagree with Brooks’s argument that we’re living in an “age of disappointment” and that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. I don’t believe we live in an age of disappointment, or at least not anymore, as it looks like Millennials and Zoomers are at least trying to address the problems that face our nation today, and it looks like they’re taking action to ensure a better future for the generations that’ll come after. We live in a world where information is widely available, and we can hear about what is happening around the world in a matter of seconds. While there are some things that I deem to be very disappointing, such as the fact we’ve just kind of accepted that the government can spy on us at any point, overall I feel as though we are not at the age of disappointment. The United States isn’t the greatest nation on Earth, but it is far from the worst. Unlike a lot of other countries, we can still voice our opinions, and we can enjoy things that many people around the world can only dream of experiencing. Yes, there are a lot of problems with the United States, such as economic inequality and racism, but at least it seems as though our generation is addressing these issues and doing what they can to bring an end to these problems.


Back in 2015, when Trump first announced that he was running for president, many people laughed it off as nothing but a joke. The Mainstream Media believed that Hilary Clinton was going to win the election in a landslide. This did not end up being the case. I remember when I first heard that Trump won, and I kept wondering why people, including my father, would even vote for him in the first place. Considering his lack of any political experience, as well as his derogatory statements towards many people, I could never imagine that someone like him would be voted into the position of President of the United States. Looking back at his campaign, I can see why there are those who thought Trump was the better pick over Hilary Clinton. One could argue that Political Apathy is the primary reason for Clinton losing the election, but I think it is also important to look at how Trump presented himself as a candidate. He considered himself to be an outsider: someone who was going to “drain the swamp” and fight the political establishment. He doesn’t act like the typical politician and to some, this is very appealing. Many people today are tired of the establishment and wish for great change to occur that will benefit the populace far more than the wealthy and those in power. Many saw Trump as the way to end the foothold that the establishment, who are prominent members of both the Democratic and the Republican parties, has had on the American Government. During the 2016 election, Trump even went as far as to mention that Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic Nomination by Democrats themselves. This may have pushed some Sanders supporters to vote for Trump, even if they don’t agree with his policies. Seeing ourselves as the outsiders has only further built this idea that the government, at least in its current form, can’t be trusted.


People like Andrew Yang have mentioned that Trump is not the cause of our problems, but he is merely a symptom of the disease that has been building in communities all across the United States for decades. Our government has failed to effectively respond to this disease causing the lives of many to be worse off. Because of this, Americans greatly distrust the government. If we are to rebuild trust of the government among Americans, we must make sure they fix the problems that face us today.

I think it was interesting when you said, "....it seems as though our generation is addressing these issues and doing what they can to bring an end to these problems." I think that many people in America, especially younger people, do genuinely want to change America for the better. Although I personally think that we are living in an age of disappointment, the bottom line is that we need to convert our disappointment into passion and action, because it is only through action that we can ever defeat the problems we have in America and begin making progress towards a better future. Like you said, it does appear like our generation has that necessary drive, but I only hope that the same passion many young people have now will still exist when this generations grows older. In the past, other generations had their own instances of youth activism, and those generations usually grew up to lose that passion. We will have to wait and see if our generation is any different.

rhiannon04
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Our Society shouldn't be Trusted

I definitely think that people are operating with a sense of distrust in our society. During quarantine, activism has definitely become more popular as the atrocities of our society have been revealed on a greater scale than before. Whether that's the issue with police brutality or women’s rights, it has become very popular for people to denounce the society in which we live in. Personally, I believe that’s a fair action and one that I have taken myself as I’ve been exposed to the true foundations of our society and how it was built to only serve a certain kind of a person. The certain kind of person in question is a straight white male. Our society wasn’t built to support women, people of color, lgtbq+, the disabled, and many disenfranchised groups. Through social media, I’ve been able to become more aware and truly learn about how broken our society is or rather how our society is working perfectly for those in which it was created to support.

I’m not quite sure if I could definitively say that we are living in either a pivot or decline. I would say a pivot in the sense that more people are becoming aware of the misdoings of our country and are fighting back which can be seen in the recent Black Lives Matter protests. On the other hand I would say a decline because in the rise of these protests and with the looming election, our country has become more divided than ever before which makes it harder to actually come together to create a society that benefits us all.

When I hear “the United States is the greatest nation in the world,” and, “for centuries, America was the greatest success on earth, a nation of steady progress, dazzling achievement and growing international power,” I think that that is utterly false. Well at least the first part. The United States is not the greatest nation in the world. Though this can be more of an opinionated stance rather than a factual one, statistically, the United States doesn’t usually rank number one in many categories, or at least ones that would lend itself the title of being the “greatest nation in the world.” The United States leads in military power, but on the other hand doesn’t in the quality of life which I would say in more situations that not, matters more than having the most powerful military. The second quote though also goes both ways. America has always been a powerful country in terms of literal military power and innovation. With the country moving into the modern era, of course it was going to be making incredible strides in the fields of science and technology and other things, but even with these fields developing, America was still not a great nation for many to live in. For example, the 50s. There was segregation between white people and black people and women were suppressed. So on one hand, the nation was developing greatly, but also not so much in the sense that many people were suffering.

I do agree with Yuval Levin because when the people are more trusting of its society, they are less likely to pin the issues they face on that society because they don’t see that as the problem. When people are less trusting of a society, they tend to be more aware of who that society truly benefits thus they pinpoint their problems to the society itself.

COVID-19 and the killing of George Floyd are directly related to our generation's distrust in our society. COVID-19 showed how unprepared our country was to support its citizens and to contain the virus. The constant debate over stimulus checks and how the government could help its people ultimately failed as millions lost their jobs and many families were evicted from their homes. During this pandemic the rich got richer while the poor got poorer which revealed even more of how our society was built to support the rich. Our country also struggled to provide hospitals with proper equipment such as a suitable amount of ventilators. The murder of George Floyd revealed how behind we were on reform, how police officers are not likely to be held accountable, and how minimal the training is to become an officer. The police force itself was originally a slave patrol which reveals how the system itself was made to terrorize black people before every other race.

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