It is considered politically incorrect, arrogant, and socially heretical to proclaim, but on this day when we celebrate the humble beginnings of the United States of America, I will exclaim that in the history of the world, the USA is an exceptional nation. To say this is to risk excoriation by those who believe otherwise, but I will not retreat from this position. The vast majority of us are children and grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of those who emigrated to these shores voluntarily with the hopes and dreams of a better life than that which would have been possible in their homeland and collectively we have built one of greatest forces for good that the world has seen, all of it rooted in the liberty enjoyed by each of her citizens.
I don’t take a pollyannaish view of the United States as being without flaw. We enslaved human beings, freed them and did immeasurable damage to their human dignity by discriminating against them. We have enabled virtually unfettered destruction of human life through the abortion trade which has had the unintended consequence of forever affecting the mores of generations. We have failed to count the unmentioned human costs of some of our geopolitical decisions and we often overlook those who survive in the shadows of our own cities.
America is not without her warts and scars but we are at the core founded on a noble principle, that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of their purpose. In living out this belief we have shed blood, brother against brother over this issue of slavery. We have shed American blood in countless foreign locations in securing not only our own continued liberty, but the freedom for others only related to us by our genus. When we have claimed victory in those conflicts we have taken no ground, no spoils of conquest except to ask for small plots of land to bury our sons and daughters where they fell.
America is exceptional in the quality of life that she offers her citizens, giving them the freedom to pursue their dreams whether they be productive, creative, scholastic, or philosophical. This liberty has led the world in innovation and the creation of value in a tide that has raised countless other boats throughout the world. Yes, the tide goes in and out, but the unstoppable spirit of liberty finds a way to stay afloat during the low tide, all the while planning for the next wave.
Finally, in a reflection that is not performed often enough we must recognize those of our citizens who see nothing but the warts and the evil of the US. Each of them should take five minutes to consider the liberty they enjoy in being able to freely voice their dissent without fear or imprisonment or worse. They should consider the resources and wealth of the nation that gives them the freedom to devote their energies to their complaints with little sacrifice of their own. And, finally they should consider the enormous risk taken by those who two hundred and thirty years ago affixed their names to a document proclaiming their intent to form a society never seen before in the world.
2 thoughts on “American Exceptionalism”
Bravo! And why I cheer your post is that not only do you point out the qualities that have made this nation the sight of the world’s greatest human potential you do this by also pointing out our ‘warts and scars’.
To put this in a spiritual light, Jesus in Matthew 7, tells us to be just as introspective before we go about crowing our superiority. To praise our nation, ignoring our own foibles, and then compare ourselves favorably to other nations, causes them to take what we say and trample it under their feet, and then turn and tear us to pieces.
Very well put, Warren. Balanced and inspirational,
Thanks Brother. To add a thought to yours, we must not only be introspective and critical of our own behavior we must also temper our expectations that others will be as well. Because the world is made up of people, some are going to act impulsively and aggressively and we, guided by the Spirit, must demonstrate the maturity and trust that comes from that guidance to temper our impressions and reactions to that behavior.
Have a blessed day of worship.
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