Today TGC carries my article on the latest Pew and Gallup data on Millennials. While others have focused on the decline of work, marriage and churchgoing – and written excellent stuff on it – I focus on the decline of social trust. America’s unprecedented cultural success has been based on our extraordinarily high levels of social trust, but that trust has been declining for a generation. I argue this is an even deeper cultural challenge than the (already formidable) difficulties we face in the decline of work, family and churchgoing:
Do “the mystic chords of memory” and “bonds of affection” still bind us as a people? There can be no rebuilding of the institutions of work, family, and religion—there can be no effective solution to our social disruptions—unless we firmly believe that “we are not enemies, but friends.” Lincoln could say those words in 1861, yet for some reason few seem confident saying them today.
But there is hope; there is always hope. Through the Christian virtue of φιλοξενία, we can lead our neighbors back to trust.