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Sunday, September 20, 2015

What's this American exceptionalism?

This term has come up mainly in conservative channels and it was summed by physician and GOP Presidential candidate Ben Carson. Paraphrasing he noted how when America arrived on the scene the world was stuck in doing things the same way. Then 200 years after America arrived on the scene humans walked on the moon....

Perhaps what Ben Carson is driving at is how in a short time Americans became successful in a variety of endeavors. We were determined to beat the Soviet Union to the moon during the 1960s. We made the technology to get humans there.

I've learned over the years that Americans are open to new ideas especially ideas that can serve to change our lives. In the last 100 years we have electricity, light bulbs, aircraft, automobiles, telephones, etc and they're commercially available for everyone to either own or use today. Today we're still innovating and finding things to improve upon.

America isn't perfect, no nation created by a person or persons truly is. People can debate all day whether on not this is the home of the free, but we are free in many ways. More free than people in other countries.

I'm not sure I've totally explained American exceptionalism, but I would like to say that our products aren't what we spread to the world. In fact what Americans can spread around the world is the philosophy of individual liberty. It's a small part of what it means to be an American, but without recognizing the liberty of an individual nothing else really follows.

1 comment:

Jack Leyhane said...

Levois, the concept of American Exceptionalism has been hijacked by the right wing in this country and it's a shame. Because America is truly the exceptional nation -- not that we're always right, not that we're always good -- no human endeavor can ever make such a claim. But America, unlike any other nation in the entire sorry history of humanity, is founded not on a shared ethnicity or on shared occupation of a "motherland" or "fatherland" or (ick) "homeland," but on a particular IDEA, the idea that all men (meaning, in 21st Century English all humans) "are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Lord knows, we haven't all or always lived up to this ideal -- but, in what other nation, at what other time, has there been any similar shared aspiration that itself creates a nation?

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