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Verble Gherulous

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American Exceptionalism

The very term brings to the American mind the image of America as a nation of overachievers who either by superior work ethic or divine guidance has made the country the best place in the world to live, and the people inherently more deserving of whatever blessings they enjoy.

If you'd like to debate the very idea of American Exceptionalism, you certainly may, but I would like also to delve deeply into the idea that, whether true or not, this cultural belief promotes an inflated sense of self-worth that is ultimately unhealthy for the psyche of this country.

Basically, where does national pride become an almost psychotic arrogance?

Or am I just not appreciating our inherent greatness?

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Closing Statement from Verble Gherulous

Thanks to all for their good comments about American Exceptionalism, most of the strong points reinforced the idea that our strength derives from an emphasis on individual liberty with a responsibiity to work together, and others also pointed out how the idea of being exceptional can lead to arrogance. I especially appreciated the Australian parallel.

All in all, I think it's fine to be proud of the place where you live, as long as you can also be honest about it.

Thanks again, everyone!

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    Feb 17 2012: If I may, I will answer with a parallel. In Australia, our patriotic (largely conservative) press likes to talk about "Australian Values" as if helping out a person in need is some exceptional quality that only exists in this nation. I quite often find myself reading about some national disaster like a flood or a cyclone, and hearing about how "the whole community showed amazing Aussie spirit" by pulling so-and-so out of the flood, thinking to myself "thank God they weren't somewhere like Africa or Asia, where the (un-Australian) people would have obviously left them to drown". People are people, and will do what people do. It is only when they let themselves be organised into nationalistic blocs that it becomes a "them-and-us" scenario. America just has more people, more conservative media (sorry about that) and more bombs.

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