Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 26, 2014

America exceptional for its diversity, freedom

By James Turner | Feb 20, 2014

To the editor:

One of the worst examples of our ignorance of evolutionary values in America is our current definition of “American exceptionalism.”

All too often I hear this idea expressed on talk shows as defined by our military power. American exceptionalism is referred to as the influence of our govenment on foreign countries, and the power and influence of our economy and culture.

We need to simplify the idea of American exceptionalism and return it to a definition that reflects our core ideals and beliefs. We as Americans are not exceptional because our country has a powerful military. We are exceptional because we have the most diversified population of virtually any country in the world. We are exceptional because we offer not just opportunity, but freedom of religious beliefs, freedom of speech and freedom from any form of persecution or injustice. We are exceptional because our pledge to our flag includes “with liberty and justice for all.” We are exceptional, because our heritage includes a persistent striving for these ideals, no matter how many times we fell short, corrected our course, or faced our mistakes, we have continued to strive to live up to our ideals.

A brief glance at the current state of affairs in our nation presents as many challenges as ever in our pursuit of these ideals. The recent revelation that our intelligence community has been spying on foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a recent example. The government shutdown speaks for itself: an almost total disregard for the American people our government purports to serve.

Having digressed more than I should have I would like to return to a simpler idea of American exceptionalism: I would like to offer the life of Charles Ingalls as an excellent example of American exceptionalism. He set to establish a home for his family in the American Midwest. He was a pioneer in every sense of the word and he had all the qualities of the best of that breed of American, perhaps the best this county ever produced.

Ingalls was strong, resilient, self-sufficient, capable, and indefatigable in finding a homestead, building a home, and supporting and raising his family. One of his daughters was Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the superb “Little House on the Prairie” book series. No finer source more convincingly documents the outstanding qualities of the American pioneer. Let’s let this legacy define, or partly define, our idea of American exceptionalism. Let us find a current equivalent of it and be the example to the rest of the world of our highest ideals.

 

– James Turner, Fairfield

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