Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
54 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

America IS Exceptional And That Needs to Be Cured

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 17   Well Said 14   Supported 10  
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H1 9/15/13
Become a Fan
  (281 fans)

opednews.com

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/11438926@N00/6240099246/: American Exceptionalism, Explained
American Exceptionalism, Explained by JoeInSouthernCA

American Exceptionalism, Explained by JoeInSouthernCA


Russian head of state Vladimir Putin wrote, in a New York Times Op-ed,
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,"
But the need to feel superior seems to be very strong, for many people. Throughout history, writers have spoken of ways that "man" is superior to all the other animals, or species. But primatologist Frans de Waal has said,   " humanity never runs out of claims of what sets it apart, but it is a rare uniqueness claim that holds up for over a decade." He has shown that primates demonstrate caring, sharing, fairness and many kinds of cognition that have been attributed to "only humans."

I asked him why people have the need to feel superior to animals. He didn't really have an answer. After all, he studies primates, not people. Of course, there's religion, which puts man ahead of animals, claiming that only man is moral. But de Waal and other researchers have clearly shown that, indeed, animals are also moral, that it's built into the DNA, not just of primates but of all mammals and even birds. Still there are probably hundreds of millions if not billions who feel they are superior to animals, more deserving of being treated specially. 

Daniel Quinn wrote a best-selling novel, Ishmael, that described leavers and takers. In my interview with him earlier this year, he described what they are:
" Leavers are people who leave the rule of the world in the hands of the Gods, and takers who've taken the rule of the world into their own hands."

Quinn points out that there have been religions, animistic religions that took that "leaver" approach, but they have not fared as well as religions that advocate that humans are superior, and deserve to be the "superior" "takers." He told me, in our interview,
I have this theory that there have been hundreds of more religions than the ones we know about, and the ones that survived are the ones that fit in with our cultural mythology: that fit in with the vision of humanity as the most important thing in the universe, that endorses the idea that humans are here to rule the rest of the living community.  The ones that didn't, for example, Animism, which was the practically the universal religion of Leaver Peoples, and still is, wherever they are still found, does not support it [our cultural mythology], and so it is not one of our religions.  It's hardly known, but it doesn't say anything about that.  Animism is a religious world view rather than a religion, a world view that sees the world as a sacred place, and humans as belonging in a sacred place.  This is not an idea that fits with our civilization's, our culture's vision of the world and humanity, and so it doesn't appear as a religion to us."

I asked Quinn, who also wrote a book, Beyond Civilization, " Do you think there's a possibility that the next stage beyond civilization could be a spiraling evolution up towards another bottom up way of being?"

He replied, "It has to be.  Hierarchy is the disaster."

Hierarchy is all about superiority in different forms, about power over, wealth, control. We live in a nation that celebrates hierarchy, supposedly based on merit-- a meritocracy. But Chris Hayes, in his book, Twilight of the Elites, and other writers and thinkers, have torn that American claim to shreds It is an illusion and a fraud. 

Perhaps the selling job that has been done for capitalism and consumerism has worked to get many Americans to have a greater need than other nationals to feel superior to the people of the rest of the world. I would agree with Putin that this  is dangerous, particularly for the ninety nine percenter Americans who have bought into this view of America, tying it to their egos and identities. 

Putin says, 
"There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too," he wrote. "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
I've come to believe that American exceptionalism is bad for America. It creates a sense of privilege and a dangerous jingoism that American politicians, TV pundits and some religious leaders, in particular, seem to need to manifest. 

Putin is far from a saint. But his words are wise and worth heeding, almost spiritual in nature. 

We have other models and examples to lead us, besides the "leavers" idea that Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael, which every American should read, describes.  For example, the Dali Lama advises that we "practice warmheartedness," which, on reading his writings, means to me, simply being compassionate to others. Robert Fuller  former president of Oberlin College and author of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, has coined the term "rankism" and is a leader in the worldwide quest for human dignity. He wrote about the problems, how people are humiliated, bullied, describing these " as abuses of rank--more precisely, the power attached to rank."

Perhaps we could set some new exceptional goals-- to be humble, to be kind, to treat all living creatures as deserving to live in a safe, ecologically healthy environment. There ARE visions out there, of equality and justice. 

The fact is, the world has radically shifted, over the past two hundred some years from feudalism, monarchy and authoritarianism to democracy. Democracy and regulations and rules have been put into place not just to create fairness-- like Frans de Waal and other researchers have shown "lowly" animals demonstrate, but also to protect the majority of people in the world from the predators-- the psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and paranoids who live to embrace hierarchy and rank, control over and domination. 

We have progressed dramatically in the past two centuries. But that progress has always been fought by the top down powers, the "takers," as Quinn describes them, and in the worst cases, the psychopaths. 

When it comes to Obama tapping that idea of American exceptionalism to sell his goal of an attack on Syria, he is drawing upon the darker side of America. Mythologists, symbologists and poets explore the "shadow," which we all have. The energy for American exceptionalism comes from America's "shadow." Wise, evolved, mature people get to know their shadows, and learn to manage them. America needs to do the same, starting with our leaders, instead of pandering to our shadows. 

Still, there are American exceptionalism realities that we SHOULD face and talk about. There is American execeptionalism we should do something about. 

We have more prisoners than any other nation-- and most of them haven't harmed anyone, but prosecuting and jailing them keeps them off the voter roles in many states. 

We have the largest military and largest military budget-- which means more money going to expenses that do not grow the economy or build the nation's inner resources and strengths. 

We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, yet we are the only first world nation, the only member of the G-20 nations which does not provide health care for all citizens. 

We are a nation that spends more on spying on citizens than any other nation. 

We are a nation that uses more psychiatric drugs than any other nation. 

We are a nation that sets the standard for voting corruptibility, with electronic tallying that is impossible to reliably recount. 

The list goes on and on, and then there are all the other list items where we are low, like infant death rate, access to WIFI, educational skills...
       *   *    *

There are people-- conservatives, liberals, Democrats-- who will say that we are the best country because of our freedoms, that we have the best medical system. They say that Obama couldn't have written what Putin wrote and had it published in Russia. That's nonsense. Maybe 200 years ago that was true. But now, there are well over 100 democracies in the world, some with greater press freedoms, where reporters are not prosecuted for reporting the truth, or prosecuted for refusing to provide sources. 

Most of the positive American exceptionalism claims apply to the one percent-- and yes, we do have more billionaires than any other nation, and we have some of the worse income inequality and inability to leave the income level you are born in, than other nations. 

But most of the illusions of exceptionalism that conservatives think we have are easily disputed when cast in the light of reality. 

Perhaps that's another one-- Americans are among the most duped and deluded people in the world-- by our politicians, our economic system and our mainstream media. 

update: Putin is far from a saint. His treatment of gays and critics as abominable. His goals for writing his op-ed probably include protecting Assad and impeding Obama's efforts to support Assad's opposition. That doesn't change the fact that what he's written is true. 

 

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Listen to over 200 of Rob's Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.


With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero's journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

And here's a one hour radio interview where I was a guest- on Envision This, on 10/23/13. And here is the transcript. 

And Rob's quotes are here.

To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn't you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

Rob's radio show, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived at www.opednews.com/podcasts Or listen to it streaming, live at www.wnjc1360.com

Rob also hosted a health/mind/body/heart/spirit radio show-- the Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show. Check out podcasts from it at futurehealth.org/podcasts

Follow me on Twitter

A few declarations.

-My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table


Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

A Conspiracy Conspiracy Theory

Terrifying Video: "I Don't Need a Warrant, Ma'am, Under Federal Law"

Cindy Sheehan Bugged in Denver

Ray McGovern Discusses Brutal Arrest at Secretary Clinton's Internet Freedom Speech

Libertarian Legacy? Ron Paul's Campaign Manager, 49, Dies Uninsured, Of Pneumonia, Leaving family $400,000 Debt

Interview: McCain Fellow Hanoi Hilton POW & Naval Academy Dorm-mate; Why He Won't Vote For McCain

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
28 people are discussing this page, with 54 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I am in agreement with the author.  Some quib... by Ron Spainhour on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 9:42:26 AM
At the risk of seeming sycophantic, kudos to our l... by Michael David Morrissey on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 11:16:34 AM
I disagree.  As I explain here, America is ex... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 12:56:17 PM
H Mark. I agree that the current state of American... by Michael David Morrissey on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 2:29:50 PM
Excellent article Rob.As someone who has lived in ... by Dave Lindorff on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 11:50:12 AM
Have mercy, sir!"Perhaps that's another one-- Amer... by Ad Du on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:17:29 PM
Exceptionalism, to the degree it reflects healthy ... by Robert S. Becker on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:35:24 PM
I see... So, America is not what it used to be, as... by Andrey Gerasimenko on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 12:35:36 PM
Rob, you began your article with a reference to Is... by M.I. Lee on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:03:18 PM
Well said! I spent a few years as a young mom stru... by Tsara Shelton on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:13:26 PM
Invasion occupation and everything that followed b... by Lance Ciepiela on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:36:43 PM
When you think about it, "we are exceptional" is p... by Maxwell on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:39:17 PM
Quinn is remarkable.  He has had a profound i... by Burl Hall on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:47:11 PM
Good question-- how do we re-kindle the leaver min... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 2:15:32 PM
An excellent article.  It must be very trying... by John-Albert Eadie on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 1:49:27 PM
Excellent Rob!   See also The Chalice a... by takebackourcountry on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 2:55:44 PM
As a pool player   exceptionalism can be... by Michael Dewey on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 3:21:13 PM
But the US, like Israel, has always been afraid of... by Peter Hindrup on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 3:22:40 PM
Thanks for your well-stated article, Rob. Her... by Monty Renov on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 4:31:36 PM
Rob, totally agree with you 100% on everything you... by David Vicks on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 5:14:31 PM
The choice is simple. Everyone wants America to st... by David Jay Morris on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 5:45:28 PM
 I am pissed off. I have been writing about t... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 7:13:29 PM
There is hope, I think. Remember how Americans are... by Ad Du on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 11:27:12 PM
(My horse for a Premium OEN membership!)  But... by Ad Du on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 11:50:04 PM
That's what you get for assuming your writing was ... by Robert S. Becker on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 11:23:35 AM
I think the lines have blurred sufficiently enough... by anna kakol on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 12:52:02 PM
Yes, like science and technology, leading-edge cap... by Robert S. Becker on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 1:18:29 PM
Most empires are like old soldiers, as  Macar... by K V Ramani on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 9:35:54 PM
Excellent articleHey Rob, I was wondering if you h... by Davey Jones on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 8:46:45 PM
Larger image of the map it took some searchin... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 10:27:53 PM
Thanks, Rob. A picture does speak louder than a th... by K V Ramani on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 1:55:41 AM
I was surprised to see Putin's statement. Soci... by John Lake on Sunday, Sep 15, 2013 at 9:28:04 PM
Except that Obama has been killing Children with "... by Dave Lindorff on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 8:40:22 AM
There is a moral issue regarding the use of drone ... by John Lake on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 8:14:33 PM
The atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were de... by K V Ramani on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 3:04:31 AM
I have to balk at the phrase "using Einstein's sci... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 10:10:57 AM
Agree entirely. Those are my recollections, too. S... by K V Ramani on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 11:28:45 AM
Alfred Adler, the "father of modern humanism", the... by JoAnne VanDatta on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 1:12:58 AM
I didn't know such a school exists. I am real happ... by David Vicks on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 6:32:15 PM
Claims to American exceptionalism are jarring to ... by K V Ramani on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 10:37:00 AM
Interesting comment but what makes you think Ameri... by Robert S. Becker on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 11:42:24 AM
There are no gods of war, only the dogs of war. If... by K V Ramani on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:04:32 AM
My favorite parody of the idea that God favors a p... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:42:37 PM
I haven't read that story. Mark Twain's irrepressi... by K V Ramani on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 9:07:05 PM
Subversion: "Claims to American exceptionalism are... by Ethan Hollow on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 1:31:14 AM
"Americans are among the most duped and deluded pe... by R. A. Landbeck on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 11:48:23 AM
AMERICA IS EXCEPTIONAL!!!  It has the most ef... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 11:55:43 AM
Yes Mark what you say is so sadly true. That ... by David Vicks on Monday, Sep 16, 2013 at 6:42:50 PM
I doubt very much that our founders ever saw the d... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 11:57:26 AM
Well I think they (the founders) meant well (we'll... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 5:24:43 PM
I wasn't knocking the founders when they said no l... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 9:48:02 PM
Exceptionalism is nutritientsless spiritual feedin... by Ethan Hollow on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:59:03 AM
How others see USA? On current Democracy index US ... by Ethan Hollow on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 1:19:21 AM
Interesting breakdown.  How were these statis... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:57:15 PM