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Grassroots Wisdom Book

How America got Mean

In an interview with public radio show 1A, Weave’s founder David Brooks talked about why our social fabric is in tatters because we don't effectively teach people how to build social and emotional skills. He argues that we need to establish systems to teach how to treat others with kindness and build communities of trust where we show up for each other. Basically, to teach people how to become weavers.

Does America need more Bildung?

It’s a German word that describes the way an individual takes personal responsibility towards family, friends, neighbors, and our planet.  

Bildung promotes change, life-long learning, and emotional depth. It embraces knowledge, culture, art, science, new perspectives, new people, and new truths. And it demands everyone to be an active citizen. 

For writer David Brooks, it’s missing from America today.  

Observers have pointed to technological, sociological, demographic, and economic shifts fueling our mean-spirited outlook.

Brooks proposes something else:

The most important story about why Americans have become sad and alienated and rude, I believe, is also the simplest: We inhabit a society in which people are no longer trained in how to treat others with kindness and consideration. Our society has become one in which people feel licensed to give their selfishness free rein. The story I’m going to tell is about morals. In a healthy society, a web of institutions—families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces—helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation.

He prescribes a way forward in his latest piece for The Atlantic called “How America Got Mean.”



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