A lot of people who operate in the political arena like to talk about American exceptionalism. They spend hour after endless hour patting themselves on the back and bragging about how wonderful they are, how kind, how generous. But are we? And more to the point, just what makes a country exceptional in the first place?
Too many people like to cite our high standard of living as proof positive that we are a MOST exceptional country. Well, exclusive country clubs, expensive limousines, and fancy restaurants are nice things to have, but when you come right down to it, virtually every country in the world has those kind of things. There's a rich man in Malaysia who drives a Rolls-Royce, does that make Malaysia great? The president of a hedge fund in Slovenia plays golf on a lush green course at a VERY exclusive country club. Does that make Slovenia exceptional? Having money is a good thing, but it hardly makes a country great.
American greatness has never depended on a high standard of living or the accumulation of wealth. What makes us great and an example to the rest of the world is what's in our hearts, what inspires our souls. You know what makes America great, truly exceptional? It's our generosity of spirit. For over one hundred years we welcomed all the people of the world with open arms. We afforded people who had never known the freedom we often take for grant, the ability to choose their own leaders and chart their own futures. It didn't matter if it was a skilled carpenter from Prague or a simple dirt farmer from Poland. We opened our doors, our arms and our hearts to these strangers and welcomed them as brother and sister Americans. They married, raised children and contributed to the growth and greatness of this great land of ours. THAT'S what made America exceptional!
But look around you. Look at the America of today. What do you see? People who want to slam our doors shut, who want to wrap themselves in indifference and who have closed their hearts to the misfortunes of others. We have a President totally devoid of empathy, totally lacking in basic human compassion, thinking only of himself and what benefits him or his immediate family.
Our government is shut down because there are those among our political leaders who are refusing to do the fair and just thing with respect to our Dreamers. They brand these young people as illegal immigrants, even though none of them actually CHOSE to come here. Many of them, I imagine, came here kicking and screaming, trying desperately to cling to the only homes they had ever known. But their parents wanted something more for them, something the country of their national origin couldn't give. And so they made the scary and often perilous journey to this country. To America, land of the free and home of the brave.
They made America their home, for most, the only home they can remember. And now there are forces arrayed against them. Forces that want to drive them from our shores and snuff out whatever dreams or aspirations they may have. Is THIS American exceptionalism? Is THIS what makes us a great country?
I think we ought to ponder these questions as we contemplate the prospect of an American government shut down primarily out of the fear and greed of some of our political leaders. I think we ought to consider the possibility of changing these leaders for others who want to restore American exceptionalism to where it had formerly been!
Filed under: Politics