The Burden of Being Exceptional

Trying to look at the United States from an objective point of view is no easy task for any of us who have called this country home for our entire lives.  I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many different Third World Countries over the past decade or so of life, so it has provided not only some distance in those instances, but also an opportunity to listen to who we would consider, outsiders, and what they think of we Americans.  I believe this has become even more difficult since the unthinkable events of September 11, 2001.  It is a day that will continue to haunt us in many ways, until we deal with its true reality in that we may not be as exceptional in the ways we think or have convinced ourselves.  Since that day, it so often seems that we have doubled-down on that thinking, somehow believing that building this façade will take away what happened that day or an escape from dealing with the hurt that was delivered upon us as we were stripped of our innocence as the “youngster” on the world stage.  From that point forward the truth was out to the rest of the world that we may not necessarily be who we thought we were, invincible and untouchable.  From that point forward we have often behaved like that child on the world stage, blaming our “parents” for everything that has gone wrong in our country, elements of jealousy and paranoia in “listening in” on others conversations as to what they think and know; when in reality, we, as a nation, are hurt and part of the burden of living up to this exceptional façade is refusing to admit that we are hurt and in need of healing; it becomes much easier to escape, evoke blame, divide, throw temper tantrums, when deep down we have been hurt like that little child.  If it seems as if the rest of the world is isolating the United States, yeah, there may be politicians to blame, from all spectrums, but we must all take some part of it and seek that healing in our lives because we, as a collective body of free persons, have bought into something that we can never live up to as human beings.  We can try, but façades eventually crack, and when they do, finally light can begin to be cast on the darkness that the “outsiders” have had to live with in relation to us all along.  We can begin to see who we really are, both exceptional and oppressor at the same time, but now with eyes opening with hope that we may choose the right path.  Whenever we face death in such a tragic way like that September day, we somehow believe that moving on from those events do an injustice to those who have died leading us to become stuck in that moment; and yet, we do a greater injustice by not moving on and seeking healing from a greater power than ourselves.  We must recognize, accept, and not fear our own shadow as a country, nor as individuals, in how we have tried to live up to the expectations that we have placed upon ourselves and of the rest of the world.   Through that process we will be moved to become exceptional in its truest sense of the word, an extraordinary nation that fulfills the dream of embracing all people, from all walks of life.  Growing up I always remember learning about the “melting pot” that has made this nation great; our ancestors coming from many different nations, rising above differences while living through adversity and hardships, being moved to care for our brothers and sisters in need and not seeing ourselves as merely individuals.  If being exceptional remains the burden that it is, then we truly are not yet free of the façade, and for that matter, not free of the pain and hurt we have endured.  The people that I know and would consider exceptional are the ones that push through the pain and hurt and come out free on the other end.  As a nation, we too must enter into that journey to experience the freedom on which we were founded, and in time, will again become the exceptional nation we strive to pass onto future generations.


One thought on “The Burden of Being Exceptional

  1. Several items mentioned in the dialog bring thoughts to mind:
    All to often, recognition that imperfections exist in the fabric of America are interpreted to be indications of disloyalty and somehow are perceived to, perhaps influence some to attack us again. Introspection and continuous renewal are instruments of growth and perfection and should never be discouraged.
    In my generation, and those before me, “the melting pot” was a term to describe the process whereby those who came to our shores became Americanized. That process did not obliterate the customs and characteristics of the cultures from which they emigrated and, necessarily America inherited some of these customs and characteristics. It seems that the Melting Post has been displaced with Diversity, where the cultural influences of the immigrant populations are superimposed on the values already in place, not through a process of assimilation, forming a social cocktail of homogenized values. The result of diversity, as promulgated, results in conflicts in social values standing in sharp contrast with one another,a kind of non-integrated mixture of dissimilar and sometimes contrasting values that constantly grate against one another, never to become shared. This results in a constant irritation to our fabric of society and must change if we are to find peace within ourselves.
    I fear that Americans have either forgotten or intentionally misread the Constitution on the issue of equality. Americans are guaranteed equality of opportunity, not equality in every other imaginable sphere. I fear that this continuing pursuit of equality, added to the incongruity of diversity are leading us down a paved road to continuous and hardening positions of political disparity.
    Lastly, I quote Alexis de Tocqueville, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith”. God help us.

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