Contrary to popular belief, American society hasn't devolved. This doesn't mean we should ignore or compartmentalize the barbarism we've witnessed, but we shouldn't pretend like today's evils are inherently different than the evils of yesteryear. America has a 240+ year run of carnage under her belt. The only thing separating today from yesterday is our vantage point.
The idea that American society has devolved is rooted in the false belief that we achieved some utopian state of bliss and then lost it. This collective fetishization- with a period no one can point to on a calendar- is a form of scapegoating that hinders our ability to address the very real issues we face.
There are millions of Americans so in love with the past that they fear the future. They have romanticized a history that never existed. Some have been so tricked by their youth, incomplete memories, and the false narratives woven into our cultural identity that they believe the America from country and western songs actually existed. I have some bad news for the adherents of this false doctrine. The "good old days" never existed. They aren't a real period in time. They are a fantasy land where nothing bad ever happened and everything was pure.
This is a painful realization, so painful, that some choose to avoid it. Instead of engaging and critically examining the myths and lies that underpin this fantasy they repeat them. Anything that challenges the narratives people believe about America is viewed as a personal attack. People aren't upset that a piece of cloth isn't being recognized, they are upset that people aren't embracing their version of reality. This makes telling the truth about America a risky and controversial proposition.
America didn't devolve; Americans just quit pretending to be civilized towards each other. Meaningful discourse was murdered by ego. Our society is so preoccupied with making sure people are respectful to symbols and relics that we've stopped working towards an inclusive future. There are people so invested in their tribes, dogmas, and ideologies that they have become blind to the ways those beliefs harm other people. They are prisoners to the myths they were indoctrinated with.
This is who we are and where we are. We are in this bed together and we have to fix it. There's a better chance of white people returning this land to the ancestors of those it was stolen from than a mass exodus of Black and Brown people. We will learn how to live together or we will be witnesses to the kind of uprisings we see in black and white photos and videos. The choice is ours.