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Opinion | Is America Falling Apart? If So, Why?

Mary Lyn Maiscott
New York

To the Editor:

We are living through a perfect storm. We survived a dysfunctional presidency that tested our democracy during a pandemic that tested our resilience and patience. Our country is not composed of individuals who are used to sacrificing their needs for the good of the community. We want what we want and work toward immediate gratification. The pandemic has tested us individually, as a country and as a collection of countries woven with different fabrics.

Our recent experience in Louisville and Superior, Colo., surviving a fire that threatened the lives of many and destroyed over 1,000 homes brought out the best in people. We’ve seen people taking care of one another. We’ve seen public servants work tirelessly to save the community from a total disaster. We’ve seen strangers drive far distances to provide resources for those who lost everything. We’ve seen local bakeries and restaurants offering free food.

Our world is filled with goodness. We are waiting for the dense fog to dissipate and the sun to shine on all of us.

Janet Lowe
Louisville, Colo.

To the Editor:

David Brooks and I are a similar age, but our memories of a bucolic past seem very different. He states that when he went to college, “I never worried that I might say something in class that would get me ostracized.” Perhaps that’s because he never said, “I used to be a woman” or “I’m gay.”

None of those statements would have been well received in my schoolgirl days. The Times story on the killing of a gay student in 1988 (“Australian Man Convicted of Killing Gay American Doctoral Student in the 1980s,” news article, Jan. 13) reminds us of that.

Kathleen Rackley
Charlotte, N.C.

To the Editor:

David Brooks errs when he attributes the drop in charitable giving to changes in people’s attitudes toward helping others. The decline is more likely another consequence of Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which preserved the benefits of large charitable donations for the very rich but by raising the standard deduction removed the tax incentive for, say, weekly collections at church or the donations of old cars or clothing to charities — the types of giving most Americans practice.

Stephen Phillips
St. Petersburg, Fla.

To the Editor:

Yes, David Brooks, I agree with you. Everything I read, everything I watch, everything I talk about convinces me that the world is, indeed, “falling apart at the seams,” to use the words of your online headline. My heart is broken because of it. Many of my friends have stopped watching the news because they are just trying to maintain their precarious mental health.

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