Are We Really Exceptional? Part IOctober 30th, 2013 | Posted by in Social Justice
Ah, America’s dance with Exceptionalism! Exceptionalism to me means special, erudite, or wise, not mean, insolent, arrogant, or conceited, pretentious. Being number one does not always ensure wisdom or brilliance. In my view, we fall under the notable and remarkable references as we hold the number one position as jailer of the world. According to Charles Murray, author, America is no longer the unique nation it thought. Having the most guns per capita and the highest murder rate than other industrialized nations is not Exceptionalism. This is not what we think of when we couple the United States with Exceptionalism.
Not to bore you with exceptional statistics, but a few points for consideration may be in order: a large number of American citizens are in poverty; many are without health care; less than a third have a college education; approximately one-third is functionally illiterate; one-half is innumerate. Racial profiling is rampant; war against women is relentless; elimination of public schools is ongoing; violence in schools is increasing. The list goes on. How do these behaviors make America Exceptional? And what does this portend for this nation state?
Given the above mentioned conditions, and many, many more, if America doesn’t change its thinking and behavior, not only will it not be exceptional, it will not be the nation it once was; for over 70 years I have watched our Exceptionalism be snuffed out by our avoidance of accuracy, fairness, equity, and social justice for all. Our avoidance of sitting in the pain of our country’s status such as: broken, struggling, eroding, in transition, entrenched, you pick a descriptor.
This is a wonderful country; yet, our leaders work very hard to ruin it; our leaders abuse their position and their privilege; they abuse the civility of its citizens; meaning, the citizens are tolerant, docile, forgiving—often too much so. And the abusers continue to exploit with abandon. Greed is the driver; money is the fuel that feeds the greed machine.
Finally, I will submit, having traveled much of the world, served in a variety of leadership roles, watched people respond to the USA over the years, I see a shift in the world’s dialogue. I hear changes about how we are viewed, valued, and tolerated. I see the strain and I anticipate if the national leaders don’t change, if the national leadership structure doesn’t change, America will fall as other empires.
Why are we attached to this notion of Exceptionalism? What are your thoughts?
Stay tuned for Part II