by Bortybo, 11th
It’s clear that the generation raised in the 2000s is filled with mental ailment, but why? David Brooks attempts to answer this question in his New York Times article, “A Generation Emerging From The Wreckage.” He uses perspectives on the current status of The United States from students attending college. The answers given by the students reveal many negative notions surrounding the world we live in from how our government is run, to the threats against democracy. Basically, people aren't having a good time. But is it harder now than it was before? When examining common circumstances for America’s youth, it is more difficult to grow up in the 21st century because the worsening wealth inequality, death of the “American dream” and lack of faith in the government due to its obvious corruptions.
In today’s society most would agree that a lot of anxiety and frustration is situated around money. How are you gonna get it? Do you have enough? And will the ever-haunting lust to acquire it ever subside? People are getting annoyed and angry with the continuously growing feeling that their financial success is stagnant. American political commentator, Robert Reich, explains in an interview that people feel that they are “not getting anywhere…[they] are working harder than ever and [are] getting nowhere, and [are] getting annoyed, and the game feels rigged against [them]” (Team Coco). Reich illustrates how the growing difficulty of reaching economic success sets people into negative mentalities and ultimately depresses our population. This makes people think of America as anything but the land of opportunities and good fortune. Prior generations were observed to be steadily doing better off than their parents. This phenomena has ceased, and economic success is becoming harder and harder to obtain as the years go on.
At one point, America was mainly viewed as a promised land, home to opportunities, a country to show gratitude for living in, but this perspective has diminished today as the generation growing up in this century has a view of their nation painted in guilt. This feeling is derived from the U.S being deemed “the greatest country,” but this statement is actually a contradiction due to how immensely flawed it really is. Brooks interviews students about their perspectives of the country, and most respond with very negative notions of society and their government. The taught history of America becomes a rounding point for how guilt is an added factor into the rising youth’s perspective: “The U.S. doesn’t have a unified culture the way other places do,” one student says, and a second student laments, “I don’t have a sense of being proud to be an American” when asked about their observations of America (Brooks). Generation z, as referring to the most recent generation, and millennials are being brought up having little to no faith in what’s considered to be the “American ideal.” In fact it's a common theme for these generations to feel guilty for being American and consider the place they live filled with imperfection due to discrimination, inadequate human rights, and corrupt power. This lack of appeal to their own country leads many youngsters to question why the government hasn't made strong enough efforts to fight these predicaments.
Lowered expectations run rampant throughout today’s youth because most are living through times where institutions fail to provide basic security. With muted conjectures among the rising generation, it’s no wonder why Brooks receives the response he does when encountering them. Through an attempt to communicate a commonly felt frustration of our political establishment, one young Yale student declares, “I don’t believe in politicians; they have been corrupted. I don’t believe in intellectuals; they have been corrupted” (Brooks). This reduced trust in American establishments steals away any sensation of solidarity in being an American citizen possibly felt by prior generations. The youth of this country are pushing themselves harder than ever before, yet they are struggling to see a reason why.
It’s clear that the 21st century has not been merciful to those growing up in it. An ever-augmenting financial inequality, a fading American ideal, and distrust in large organizations has made certain of that much. The disproportion of wealth creates a harder to obtain lifestyle for the average citizen. The stigma and negativity surrounding what it means to be an American forbids a sense pride and induces one of guilt in its place. Incidents where large-scale U.S operations, such as government programs, elections, or military, fail to provide insurance to its people, leaving them with broken trust and lack of faith in the government that regulates them. If these problems continue to worsen, so will their symptoms: increased depression, harder to obtain healthy lifestyles, economic collapse, and the perpetuation of this cycle.
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