By Gerson Moreno-Riano, November 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
The greatness of a country is not based on the opinion of its citizens. Rather, the greatness of a country is based on the nobility of its origins.
In one of the most recent surveys of the Pew Research Center less than half of Americans believe that America is exceptional. This has led some to suggest that the United States is becoming more European in this regard. We are following, some argue, the footsteps of such countries like Britain, France, Germany, and Spain who once believed in their exceptional character but are now convinced they are no better than anyone else. This may be true of our European friends. It is not true of America.
America’s exceptionalism is rooted first and foremost in the religious character of its founding. America is great because it began as a pursuit of the divine, a pursuit codified in the great principle of liberty of conscience. America was birthed as a nation in which worship of and reverence toward God was central to its identity.
America’s exceptionalism is also rooted in the humane character of its founding. America is great due to its commitment to human dignity, a conviction that all human beings are equal and worthy of respect and rights given their divine origins. America began as a nation in which esteem for the individual was central to its existence.
America’s exceptionalism is also rooted in the innovative character of its founding. America is great given its openness to creative experimentation, a process in which tradition and the untried are blended for creative solutions to serious problems. America started as one of the greatest and most innovative experiments in human history.
If most of America’s citizens no longer believe in its exceptionalism, it is because they are either ignorant of its noble origins or are unable to embody them. The problem is not with America itself. Rather, the problem is with the character of its citizens and leaders. We, Americans, have abandoned the noble beginnings of our country in pursuit of other less than noble principles. We have become irreverent, destructively individualistic, and unimaginative. Perhaps we no longer believe America is exceptional because we look at ourselves in the mirror.
America has been and always will be exceptional. It is time for us, its citizens, to catch up to it.