You ask “What happened.?” That is a very good question! Much of the answer is contained in the writings of people such as Chris Hedges, who does a much better job of it than I can. But, for what it’s worth, I’ll give you some of my thoughts.
Basically, part of what has happened is that we became self-centered consumers instead of citizens. How often do you even hear us described as citizens. A big part is also the ascendancy of the “Terrible Triplets of Militarism, Materialism, and Racism” that Martin Luther warned us about in 1967.
In other words, Fear, Hatred and Greed have been encouraged for some time now, largely as a way to control our thoughts and actions. I think you can see this right out in the open under this current administration. It’s been around for quite a while, but somewhat concealed.
Basically, the people (not all, not even most of them, but enough of them) have been subtly taught and encouraged to think and act differently than they used to. You can see it in a number of daily situations, unless you are young enough to think it’s normal.
Lack of civility, road rage, lack of empathy, the worship of wealth, the worship of the military, the callousness and cruelty towards the poor, the dysfunctional systems of criminal justice, the demeaning of public servants. I could go on and on.
I admire your post, and admire your question. You are aware that something’s very wrong, and that’s a good start!