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American Exceptionalism

Sat, Sep. 22, 2012 Posted: 06:52 PM


By Carrie and Stacie Stoelting
www.unitetheusa.org

After her mother died, our great-grandma held her father's hand to cross the Atlantic and legally join this land. She worked hard as a household servant, married a farmer, had five kids, loved her Lord, and proudly claimed the USA.

With gratitude, she embraced pure freedom for the first time. We believe that our great-grandma would agree: Our rights do not come from the government, but from God.

America shines as exceptional because her intent is to give honor and responsibility to the individual -not the state. Unlike many other countries, our nation never established a state religion, feudal system, landed estates or hereditary nobility. America truly stands as a unique beacon of freedom: a place where people live free of government control. A sanctuary for families. An oasis of freedom for the oppressed.

From the Puritans who arrived on the Mayflower to the colonists of the 1700s, America was founded by people who wanted to be free. (They especially sought religious liberty.) Thomas Paine's book, Common Sense, stated that America was a new country of nearly unlimited potential and opportunity that had outgrown the British mother country. As a republic, the United States offered citizens freedom. Americans could live their lives without government dictating their every move.

Some describe this remarkable achievement as "American Exceptionalism" -a term developed in 1831 by Alexis de Tocqueville, a famous French visitor to America who wrote Democracy in America. De Tocqueville said, "The position of the Americans is quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one."

Later, President Thomas Jefferson envisioned America to become the world's great "empire of liberty". He identified his nation as a beacon to the world and as a model for democracy and republicanism. Embracing ideals have allowed America to achieve higher goals and shine hope - like a city on a hill.

As in most countries, family position determines those who have wealth and opportunities. However, in America anyone from any background can become educated or "climb the ladder of success" regardless of circumstances of birth and social rank. This aspiration is commonly called living the "American dream".

Thanks to the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, Americans receive the five freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

Reality check: In many countries, governments harshly and violently punish individuals who stray from the state religion. For example, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries are intolerant of religious freedom -especially Christianity- and they punish those who disobey. But in America, we have religious liberty: a gift we must protect.

People from around the world seek refuge here to escape Marxism, communism, and other tyrannical governments. America has come to the aid of struggling nations so that they, too, can live in freedom. (Contrary to election season rumors, other countries do cherish Americans who helped them!)

Sadly, in recent times, certain leaders have flipped the opposite direction: American exceptionalism has been under attack: In April 2009, President Barack Obama said, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." This attitude is like if Iowa State University would say that the University of Iowa thinks of itself as being just as exceptional. Or if fans of the New York Yankees would say that the Minnesota Twins had the same level of pride and support from their fans. Yes, it's normal for countries to embrace their own national pride and should be encouraged - just like schools have school pride and sports teams have team spirit. But the lack of passionate patriotism in our president causes many heads to turn and then bow. We must pray. Americanism faces internal enemies:

Without fail, the liberal media make statements that undermine our country's history, uniqueness, and importance. As defenders of freedom, we believe that Americans must work hard to protect our country from internal attack. Our history of freedom and stability isn't perfect (i.e. slavery and the Civil War), but it's the best in history: America still stands out from other countries: No other country has enjoyed such a record of unhindered individual freedoms. In fact, during the early days of America, France experienced fifteen separate governments. Other countries have had a series of governments as well. For example, Brazil has had seven since 1822; Poland has had seven since 1921, and Russia has had four since 1918. And, the same is true for many other nations throughout Europe, Africa, South America, and the rest of the world.

The fact of our freedom rests on the mercy of God and, as such, they should be cause for appreciative humility. We believe in American exceptionalism -not prideful superiority. God has blessed and watched over America and we thank Him for those blessings.

We must remember that it is God who grants the grace, yet a nation must seek His face. He's the ultimate Judge (Psalm 75:7). And, as long as we kill unborn babies that He has created, we cannot expect His favor.

We must turn to God, humble ourselves, and realize the treasure which is America. God-given rights must be preserved. America deserves appreciation and prayer. Psalm 47:8 states it clearly and concisely: "God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne." God has used America to help many achieve the previously impossible!

Recently, Senator Marco Rubio shared memories of his Cuban grandfather. Rubio's grandfather knew the hardship of living in Communist controlled Cuba. He experienced life in a country in which the government dictated and there was no freedom. As Senator Rubio said, "I don't remember all the things he talked to me. But the one thing I remember is the one thing he wanted me never to forget: that the dreams he had when he was young, became impossible to achieve. But there was no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American."

As a conclusion, the words of President Ronald Reagan are perfect to share, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Carrie Stoelting