David Brooks calls for community building and redemption in America

David Brooks
David Brooks speaking at the Institute for Freedom & Community at St. Olaf College.
Courtesy of Claire Nelson

David Brooks told a Minnesota audience Monday night that the country is "lost in a valley of our hostilities and resentments," but he has faith in human nature to seek redemption, and for the American people to come together.

He was invited to St. Olaf to give a keynote address to launch the Institute for Freedom and Community's fall lecture series, "Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Idea of America."

Brooks said our individualistic culture has led to a rise of narcissism and isolation. "After 60 years of individualism, we revert to tribe."

There has also been an institutional crisis in America, he says, with a massive decline in trust in many of our institutions.

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"Once we were in a culture where we were all in this together," Brooks said. "We need to create a sense of cohesion and national purpose," and tell a "new American redemption story."

Brooks called for an increase in social trust, better human relationships, and basic decency toward one another. He called this "radical mutuality."

He also described this as "building a new ethos, a renegotiation of power, and a knitting together of institutions."

Brooks is a New York Times columnist and a commentator on PBS and NPR. He spoke September 24, 2018 at the Institute for Freedom and Community at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Professor Edmund Santurri is the Morrison Family Director of the Institute.

To listen to his speech, click the audio player above.