This whole debate about “American Exceptionalism” is a good example of what happens when people think, speak, or act out of ignorance.  They can make a mountain out of a molehill, misunderstanding each other because they are defining the key terms in the argument very differently without realizing it, and making assumptions about what they think they know and not bothering to check themselves before they go off in a fit of righteous indignation.  But allow me to put the controversy to rest with just a little bit of simple research that did not take me too much time or effort and which all of these people in the debate could have easily done and perhaps avoided all this unnecessary bickering, although I’m sure some people just live for a good argument.  From Wikipedia (which, like a broken clock, is sometimes right), the article on  “American Exceptionalism” defines the phrase not by “superiority” or “arrogance” as those in the current debate are using the term, but rather, as the article states, the phrase is defined by scholars using six criteria that exemplify our unique American culture and political system: 

1. Liberty -- the value of individuals to have agency (control over their own actions).

2. Egalitarianism -- It is defined either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people or the decentralisation of power. Some sources define egalitarianism as the point of view that equality reflects the natural state of humanity.

3. Individualism -- the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government.

4. Republicanism  -- stresses liberty and "unalienable" rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption… people have unalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters. Alexis de Tocqueville warned about the "tyranny of the majority" in a democracy [such as happened in the bloody French Revolution], and advocates of the rights of minorities have warned that the courts needed to protect those rights by reversing efforts by voters to terminate the rights of an unpopular minority [such as happened with Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War which took away the rights of black citizens].

5. Populism -- a political doctrine where one sides with "the people" against "the elites."  Americans usually like to side with the “underdog.”

6. Laissez-faire -- an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from government restrictions, tariffs, and subsidies, with only enough regulations to protect property rights. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means "let [them] do", but it broadly implies "let it be," "let them do as they will," or "leave it alone". Scholars generally believe a laissez-faire state or a completely free market has never existed…. Laissez-faire, a product of the Enlightenment, was "conceived as the way to unleash human potential through the restoration of a natural [economic] system, a system unhindered by the restrictions of government.

It is clear that our nation is rather unusual in human history in the amount of freedoms that are given to the people and in a system that is designed to disperse power to the people while still protecting the individual against “mob politics.”  Certainly we have not always lived up to our values that were conceived at the founding of our country, but we have never given up the fight to keep reaching toward those lofty goals, and with God’s blessings, we have gone further than any nation in history probably to live out the values in the Bible which are founded upon the law of love, an expression of the limitless love which Our Father in Heaven has for all of us. 

I pray that you will enjoy the full extent of your God-given rights and freedoms this day and that you will remember to give Him thanks from whom all blessings flow. 

 


Comments

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08/14/2017 3:34am

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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