Some would call it arrogance that we ever believed that our country was somehow better than any other country on earth, but I'm reminded of the old adage, "It ain't braggin' if it's true". What is troubling about this research poll is that it raises the question, "What if it ain't true anymore?"
There was a time, and not so long ago, that America was a blessing in the earth. Our wealth, our kindness and charity, and the blood of our soldiers were readily shared, and gladly welcomed. One has only to look to the headlines to wonder if this is any longer true. The sickening waste of the GSA in Vegas, the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, our troops posing for photos with body parts of Afghan insurgents... does anyone look forward to the Americans coming to their country anymore? Do we possess the wealth or the virtue to continue to bless those in need across the globe?
The adage often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville that "America is great because she is good, and if she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great", reflects that the greatness of America lies not only in her vast resources, but in the goodness of her people, and by extension, her government and armies. The question is then, is America's goodness and her greatness a thing of the past?
Empires fall in two ways; they are conquered, or they decay. We have long had enemies who have tried to conquer us, but the greatest threat to the exceptionalism of America remains the enemy within, decay. The same shortcomings that are fatal to individuals are fatal to societies, which are after all just collections of individuals; and those shortcomings can be effectively viewed through the ancient Christian construct of the Seven Deadly Sins.
IMHO: There is such a thing as superiority, and the exceptionalism of America, whatever the reason, has always been self-evident. An exceptional child upon reaching adolescence will sometimes stumble as they find their way into adulthood. Hopefully their excellence is regained as maturity overtakes error and selfishness, though some will remain adolescent for life. Our nation has come to the place where we suppose vice to be equivalent to sophistication, freedom, or pragmatism. We have stumbled into decay, but hopefully we are not fallen beyond recovery, and can regain our status of being a beacon and a blessing for the rest of the world.
Next blog will investigate the relevance of the Seven Deadly Sins to the politics and economy of our present society. In a free country the identity of the nation reflects the hearts and souls of the individuals it is comprised of. If the greatness of a nation fails, it is because its citizens have stumbled. It is only in the hearts and souls of those individual citizens that the salvaging of exceptionalism can begin.