On Exceptionalism

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My children are exceptional. They just are. I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear that. I will always choose them over your children. You should get used to that.

My children are exceptional in that I am prepared to work and sacrifice that they may become amazing people. But no matter what kind of people they become, I will love them. When I say that, I mean that I will always hope for wonderful things for them in a way that I will never feel for your children. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate your children’s talents and successes. They’re great. But they’re not my children. Objectively, I know mine won’t always perform better than your children but I’m prepared to stand by them even when they come in last place. I’ll even cheer for your children or coach them or encourage them, but not like I cheer for mine. I’ll take their side in a disagreement. Probably I’ll do this more than I ought, but there are plenty of people ready to thwart my children. They deserve at least one consistent ally.

I realize that you feel the same way about your children and that there’s a certain symmetry that makes my conclusion (that my children are the best) no more valid than yours. You’re entitled to your wrong opinion.

But mine is a wide-eyed love. I see the mistakes my children make. Not to see them would be to fail them in my responsibility to make them better. I do not blindly defend my children’s actions, nor do I always submit to their wishes or follow their plans. Again, to pretend they always do right is not love. It’s laziness and bad parenting.

So, too, with my country. I love the United States more than any country in the world. I’ll always hope for her success in every arena. When we do wrong, as a country, I’m going to speak up. That how much I love the USA. There may be a lot of fine things about your country (unless you’re Belgian. Belgium is the worst.). Some things about your country are undoubtedly better than mine (again, except for Belgium). But it will never be my home. I know America has given us atrocities like the trail of tears and Nagasaki and Iraq and Fergie and Iraq again, but it also gifted the world a lot of nobility and beauty and peace including my beautiful childhood. And so, I’ll sing my lungs out when the Star-Spangled Banner plays. And I’ll paint my face red, white and blue and chant “I believe that we will win!” And I’ll fight for her on varied battlefields.

The other thing I love about both my children and my country is their potential to be even greater. I’ll do what I can to make them all beacons of truth and righteousness. Because that’s what love looks like.

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