Independence Day and American Exceptionalism

I wrote this last year at this time. Unfortunately things in America haven’t changed. If anything they’ve gotten worse. So I thought I I’d revisit the topic of what the United States stands for … or at least what I think it should.

Tomorrow a lot of you will be at the barbecue, waiving flags and celebrating the 4th of July. This is the day that us in the United States are supposed to celebrate our independence from the tyranny of King George III of England. And along with this comes talks of how great this country is … and its exceptionalism.

A symbol of exceptionalism?

Well, I ain’t waiving no flag! Now don’t get me wrong. I love the United States and have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean this country is exceptional. And I didn’t live in the past so I don’t how great the United States was or wasn’t.

But all I know … it isn’t that great right now. Let me first qualify. I’m talking about this country’s institutions (i.e. government, etc.) not its people, well most of them. Most of the people are great.

I don’t know how a country can be great when its government is mired nonsensical partisan dysfunction. Mired in gridlock fueled by selfish ideology detrimental to the constituents it’s there to serve, this is a government bought and paid for by the upper 1%. This is a government filled with those that consider themselves leaders, when the real leaders are living next to you and doing the real work of this supposedly great nation.

I don’t know how a country can be great when it seems it has complete disregard for its future, its children. It has let its public school system fall into rote memorization, standardized testing disrepair. And in addition to that, a good portion of the government wants to cut subsidies to less fortunately children … through no fault of their own, often go hungry.

I don’t know how a country can be great when it lets twenty percent of its population exist in a perpetual welfare state. And instead of coming up with ways to maybe help, the only talk on Capitol Hill is: “How can we add to this percentage by enacting a “Hunger Games” budget.”

And I don’t know how a country can be great when it views its environment as its dumping ground, its toilet. At every turn it blocks international efforts to save the planet, siding with glutenous polluters and narcissistic oil companies instead. And instead of trying to curb further pollution, its government is making inroads turning back clock … back to a dirtier time.

In lieu of all of this, I’ve decided to come up with my own Declaration. I’m going to call it “The Perfect World Declaration.” in honor of this blog of course.

“The Perfect World Declaration”

I declare, we the people of the United States of America, break free of the tyranny of thinking the government and all its related institutions will do anything to act in our best interests.

Instead, I declare we take care of ourselves. I also declare we assist our friends and neighbors in taking care of themselves. For what matters most when all else has let us down, is our community. And only we can save our communities.

I declare we not depend on the government’s ill focused education system. But instead, I declare we view ourselves as the primary educators of our children, with whatever coming from the system as an extra benefit. For more is learned in the time outside of school than inside the restrictive walls of the classroom.

And I declare we as humans acknowledge that we are connected to a system greater than just ourselves. Our fates are forever connected to the land, water, air and all its inhabitants – animate or inanimate.

If you take anything from this diatribe – may it be this:

Leave every person, every place and everything better off from you being there.

Now go out there and make a difference … and don’t burn the steak.


I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg


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