Wednesday, August 15, 2012

True American Exceptionalism

Many people believe that America is the greatest country in the world, especially most Americans do. What's special about this is that they believe many foreigners think alike.

Well yes, many foreigners think alike - they think their country is the greatest country in the world, just as Americans do.

It's easy to find foreigners who admire America and it's easy to find foreigners who are instead totally in love with their own country.

America is the greatest country in the world based on some hard facts, not the least because it's the developed country with the largest population.

What's more interesting is how its greatness is something that requires constant maintenance and improvement.

Wealth quickly fades away without near-constant hard work. We need to invest every year in factories, training, education, infrastructure, research and development.

We need to be alert that our freedoms aren't being restricted by corrupt policemen, authoritarian politicians, faceless bureaucrats or CEOs who mistake control over money for power over people.

We need to care for our society to keep fractures of the society under control, to create and maintain a social climate that enables people to live without much fear of others and the risks of life. Children ought to grow up without heavy burdens caused by social stresses.

This near-constant, everlasting need to maintain the greatness of a country for the benefit of its people is of greatest importance. America did a better job in this regard than many if most other countries.

This is why I'm always uncomfortable when "greatest country in the world" sounds more like an article of faith than like a reminder about the hard work and alertness that's needed to maintain what we have and to improve upon it. Someone who strongly believes in the phrase as an article of faith may come to think of it as self-evident and become complacent.

Defense and Freedom


  1. Well said. People should treat it as a reminder rather than an article of faith.

  2. The main point that I liked about this piece, is that instead of treating American Exceptionalism as a bumper sticker or a political attack, it actually added some much needed definition.


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