American Exceptionalism – Fact, Fiction or Fairy Tale?

Real unemployment of 16%, unending wars, crushing government debt, commercialization, consumerism, waste, hunger, poverty, drug abuse, illegal immigration, terrorism, rampant inflation, global warming, nuclear or biological catastrophe, natural disasters, peak oil and energy collapse. Does the very idea of hearing this laundry list of problems or the thought of discussing them make your eyes glaze over in painful boredom or does your mind wander away seeking a place of blissful ignorance? Do you think “not again, I’m tired of hearing about this; change the channel, put something else on; who cares…Not my problem, what can I do about it? I’m helpless, I’m only one person.” What is America? Are we near the end of American, as you or I know it? Are the things we hold dear close to disappearing?

The radio seems to be full of stories about fear replacing freedom and self-expression giving way to political correctness. The crashing economy and high unemployment seems to the largest overwhelming problems and the ones that heighten the danger and anxiety associated with the other issues.

Is there a solution to this, seemingly endless, list of problems or are we going to go the way of other great societies and fade into the obscurity of history books? What is this so called great “American Ideal” that seems to be on the edge of collapse? What is “American Exceptionalism?” Is America Great? What would happen if America Fell, the dollar collapsed and everything came down around our shoulders? Would it be a bad thing?

We live in America, the greatest nation on earth, the greatest country that has ever existed. A shining beacon of hope that provides the foundation of good that supports and defends the rest of the planet – or so we’ve been told. But we seem to be standing on a precipice, barely balancing, tottering, and a small breath away from slipping over the edge.

How did we get here? Was it by some accident or a grand insidious plan? Looking back things seemed to be going so well for so long that this almost seems impossible. The government also seems to be unwilling or unable to do anything. Do we want them to do anything? Has the government ever solved any problem it tackled, or just made it worse by creating a bureaucratic mess?

I had a belief instilled in me as a child, the dream that if a person worked hard enough they could have or be anything. Simply stated, this is what makes America great. We have endless possibility with the greatest obstacles to our goals being ourselves. The fact that we have the freedom to be who we are, whatever that may be for us, and the ability to live life on our terms the way we want to live it, good or bad, is the basic foundation of “American Exceptionalism.”

The dream is not gone yet. We still have roads open to us as individuals. The responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders as individuals to make sure we continue to work hard at whatever it is we choose to do and avoid the traps of irresponsible consumerism and the faulty belief the we are entitled to things we did not earn.

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