The Moral Values of America’s Youth: My Letter to the Editor

Published by the New York Times.

To the Editor:

Re “If It Feels Right…” (column, Sept. 13):

David Brooks cites a Notre Dame study of 230 young Americans to indict an entire generation’s moral sensibility, warning that our “erosion of shared moral frameworks” gives rise to “moral individualism.”

I think the researchers got it wrong. It’s not that we don’t have a shared vocabulary to address moral issues — we just don’t have theirs.

My generation is the most open-minded in history. Nearly half of us are nonwhite or multiracial; most of us support interracial dating; and the majority of us, including conservatives, accept gays and lesbians.

We don’t frame our moral commitments in the black-and-white language of previous generations, because we’ve inherited the damage that comes from absolutes, whether partisan politics or fundamentalisms.

We’d rather channel our diverse moral stirrings into meaningful action. In fact, a group of us lead a multifaith initiative for justice anchored in exactly what Mr. Brooks says we lack: moral vision. It’s time for a closer look.

New Haven, Sept. 13, 2011