Trump and Afterwards
The Next American Culture
David Brooks, Davidson College , January 19, 2018
David Brooks Next American Culture lecture was delivered twelve months before Covid-19 appeared and 24 months before the January 6th Insurrection.
What will American culture become given the shocks of Covid-19 and January 6th Insurrection?
Eighty plus years old my generation embraced unity to end The Great Depression and win World War II. We fell in love with spouse and family, vocation, faith, and community and defined success by how well we served each. We spoiled our children with things, college and freedom. Freed from tradition they embraced individualism. Civil Rights progress served them, our nation and us well.
But Individualism appears dangerous when faced with Covid-19, the management of which requires unified response. Social media influencers, insurrectionists and politicians opposed efforts to mitigate spread of Covid-19 thereby causing hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Our grandchildren love the same things as us but express it differently. Most have intimate relationships but many don't marry. Some do not want children and many work at jobs instead of launching a career. Many have given up on the unifying culture of traditional religion and political parties. Relationships are often online and physical contact rare.
Covid-19 and the January 6th Insurrection will certainly be cultural accelerants. Whatever culture emerges will be our grandchildren's creation. I pray they embrace positivity.
In the words of a close friend "We have it pretty darned good". While that is reality most news and social media posts are denunciations of "bad". This is dangerous because words inspire actions. It is my sincere hope our grandchildren embrace the good and take everything we love to new heights.
Human beings follow leaders who inspire hope. One problem I see is those of us who don't want our society to revert to winner-take-all tribalism do not have an attractive central purpose which we can describe in ways that inspire love of what we have and can become. Social healers are the role models and leaders needed.
I won't be around to see how my grandchildren define "success" but whatever they choose will certainly be our new national culture. I pray the culture they create is lovingly inclusive, connective and positive.