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The De-moralization of American Culture

In his article “How America Got Mean,” David Brooks laments what he calls “the de-moralization of American culture.” Brooks notes that “over the course of the 20th century, words relating to morality appeared less and less frequently in the nation’s books:

According to a 2012 paper, usage of a cluster of words related to being virtuous also declined significantly. Among them were bravery (which dropped by 65 percent), gratitude (58 percent), and humbleness (55 percent). For decades, researchers have asked incoming college students about their goals in life. In 1967, about 85 percent said they were strongly motivated to develop “a meaningful philosophy of life”; by 2000, only 42 percent said that. Being financially well off became the leading life goal; by 2015, 82 percent of students said wealth was their aim.

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