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American Exceptionalism

July 12, 2018

. . .because we have the 1st Amendment.

I’m Canadian, so it’s not really the same thing.

Oh, sorry. My mistake for thinking you were American. (I mean, isn’t everyone?)

It was a facebook conversation on a friend’s wall. He and I, while great friends, don’t share political views. Most of his friends are on the opposite side politically from me.

It let me consider what seperates citizens of the Unites States of America from citizens of other countries. President Obama once stated, I believe in ameiran exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

The former president was criticized by those who took issue with his acknowledgement that every country thinks it is exceptional. As Syndrome, the villian in Pixar’s movie “The Incredibles” said, When everyone is super, then no one is.

My grandmother used to tell each of us grandkids that we were her favorite. And we believed her.

I have great respect for many of the countries in the world. We recently watched in awe as Thai special forces rescued 12 boys stuck 2 kilometers inside a flooded tunnel. That was exceptional.

We recently saw some of the best soccer players in the world compete in the World Cup. Sunday, France and Croatia will square off to see who’s best in the world. The USA didn’t qualify for the tournament. But, even if we had, no one expects our boys would have made it to the finals. France and Croatia have done something exceptional.

So, was Obama right? Is everyone special? Sure, but I think there’s still room for making the case for American exceptionalism.

Last week we had our nations birthday. 242 years young. We date our birthday from a hot summer’s day in July, 1776. A group of men risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to wrest a country away from the most powerful nation on earth.

I’ve read enough history to know that things are never simple. Yes, the colonists defeated Britain. But, it took some help from France, and we were not the primary focus of Britain at the time. Still, a group of men stood up and said, From this day forward we will make our own choices.

We Americans discovered electricity. We put men on the moon, a feat still unmatched. We invented computers. Then, we invented them again. We invented a bomb so terrible that it shook the world. We have the most powerful military in the world, and yet the person in charge of that army willingly gives up control.

We invented television and then to try and make up for it, we invented the internet. Have have some of the richest men and women in the world. And many of them are giving away billions of dollars to aid education, eradicate disease, and bring all nations into the information age.

We’ve not always been at our best. We allowed slavery for far too long. Eventually it nearly tore our country apart and we paid an atonement in blood. We still treat groups of our citizens badly. Our Constitution allows people to be racist, rude and horrible citizens.

But, we remain the beacon on a hill. There are millions of people who dream of getting to start a new life in America.

Yes, I think Americans have reason to be proud of our exceptionalism.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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