Is America Exceptional?

The danger of starting a post on this topic is that many view it incorrectly. This is the second post in my preparation for my first ever patriotic concert held at First Presbyterian Church, Battle Creek, on Saturday, May 16 @ 7:30pm. For those of you who missed my first post in this series, you may find it here.

I left the last post with the statement that “A patriot, in my opinion, strives to see his country with clear eyes and a level head, and loves his country still.” This philosophy is applicable to the next misconception. Namely, that patriotism means you think your country is better than all others.

Now, there is a sense in which patriotism does mean that. I used to live in North Carolina. You would be hard-pressed to find a UNC fan who did not think that the university was better than Duke, and vice versa. My students sometimes asked me  which school I rooted for, and I would reply, “Go Blue!” Heh-heh.

The point, if I may say so, is that a patriot thinks the world of his country. He sees its successes and says, “That’s awesome! We’ve done that better than everyone else.” Whether or not that statement is true can be debated, but should not be a point of hemming and hawing. Patriotism is not a half-hearted, pessimistic love.

A popular misconception concerning American Exceptionalism is that people think it’s snooty. Having pride in your country should not mean you look down on other countries. Just as you should look at your own country with clear eyes, so also you should look at other countries with the same mindset.

America does some things better than other countries. Sometimes, other countries do things better. I find it very frustrating when people will praise the latter and never the former. It’s like a husband complimenting other women while only criticizing his wife.

In my opinion, America is exceptional in its ideals. We stated in our Declaration of Independence amazing principles like “all men are created equal,” and are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” That’s pretty swell!

Has America followed those ideals perfectly? Of course not (What country has or could?)! They are very high standards. I don’t hate my country for falling short of them. I love America for pursuing those ideals in the first place.

America is also exceptional in its accomplishments. We have been a powerful force of modernization and innovation in the world. We have halted the onslaught of tyranny time and time again. We have expended blood and treasure for the causes of liberty. We have forgiven former enemies and made them our allies. We have given to others freely and generously.

Some might say, “Well, that is all fine and good. I think such and such a country has done it better.” They are free to disagree with me. Freedom of speech is one of the things that makes America exceptional.

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