REMEMBERING THE SACRED.
What is Memorial Day? I admit I used to be ignorant. I’d hear the term “American exceptionalism” and did not know what it meant. And being uninformed I didn’t want to appear unhip by sounding elitist about my country so I never cared about the term. But I discovered “American exceptionalism” is NOT about elitism! Instead it is about uniqueness in structure and mission. It is what good men gave their life to fight for and to protect – hence Memorial Day.
AND – OK, this is a longer post…but as this day exists to keep something sacred in your memory…take 3 minutes to read the post…cause something you love is in danger of being stolen.
This “American exceptionalism” is a term most don’t get right. But it is one we must come to understand. The President himself didn’t get it right and nobody called him on it when he tried to renounce the term as a problematic expression of American branding on the world’s stage.
The term can be first traced to Alexis de Tocqueville, a writer who in 1831 studied the uniqueness of America’s emergence out of the ashes of a hard fought revolution. (Check out his book, “Democracy in America” on Amazon.)
Basically up till the American experiment took place, nations submitted to a ruler – a King of some sort. (Catch these uniquely American terms in “quotation” from the Founding Fathers as follow.) The king or some ruling faction determined whether or not you could own a business or property. They defined your value. They derived their right to exist “from God” as opposed to the “consent of the governed”. Up till our experiment, your personal “rights” were defined in terms of their relationship to the authority that governed you i.e. the English Monarchy of King George.
Alexis de Tocqueville caught it: when the Americans came along they believed that GOD gave rights to PEOPLE – they do not come from some secular ruler’s throne. America’s Founding Fathers set something up for all the world to watch. Lincoln caught this when he mentioned our experiment as a hope for the world when our democracy was caught in a great Civil War.
Hence, in this American experiment we proposed a new idea – something exceptional – we set up a system where we voluntarily submit to a government elected “by the people, for the people, of the people”, with God over the citizen and not the throne of the dictator or King, be they good or bad.
“We the people” engage in a conversation about what ideas are the best and we elect leadership to work within that narrative. If they screw up we try again with other leaders at the next election. Fundamental to America’s system is the idea that GOD (not dictators, kings, Popes or Ayatollahs) GIVES to EVERY MAN AND WOMAN the RIGHT to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This is important: fundamental to that is the existence of a moral people who have some sort of godly standard to put in check their insatiable appetite for self interest at the expense of the greater good.
Former President and Founding Father John Adams warned us:
â€œOur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.â€
As we cease to be moral, and Christian religion is despised we WILL see our experiment fail…and a pseudo democracy installed – one that gives an immoral people what they want…till there is nothing left in the public treasury to give. Then we will have lawlessness at unprecedented levels. Our exceptionalism won’t be exceptional any more.
Since the idea of America was started, men and women have been laying down their lives to defend our freedom and American exceptionalism. We owe them our unending gratitude.
We also carry on our shoulders a responsibility to do our part to be a MORAL and ENGAGED people. We MUST NOT let the sacrifices that have been made to be in vain. I am not willing for that to happen on my watch. How about you?
To all those who have lost a hero, thank you for YOUR sacrifice. We do not take lightly what American men and women have done on our behalf. We are grateful to your family member or friend who fought and died to keep us free.