"Disillusioned? Has your initial idealism been ground into cynicism? Dismayed by discovering how things really work?
There's a term for what you're suffering: Weltschmerz.
Literally "world pain" in German, "Weltschmerz" describes the pain idealists feel upon realizing that the world does not live up to their expectations of what it should be. It's a word only the Germans could come up with — but an affliction that's hitting America hard.
An entire genre of essays has emerged to chronicle American Weltschmerz. The structure of these pieces typically follows a similar pattern: A hero enters industry X, only to see their hopes dashed against its disappointing realities — before then using their revelation to rally against the prevailing system.
Weltschmerz, though, is not an obscure German phrase for what some may label as "whining." It has a history of both driving progressive reform and fomenting revolution.
ow America adapts to this latest upsurge of Weltschmerz will say much about its prospects for adapting its myriad failing institutions to the realities of a changing age.
Nearly every elite American industry has had a recent prominent Weltschmerz — or more.
Washington Weltschmerz is by now a common trope.
Depictions of government have moved from West Wing to Weltschmerz. "
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