|As author and humor columnist Dave Barry notes:
|My mom, like my Dad, and millions of other members of the Greatest Generation, had to contend with real adversity: the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, hunger, poverty, disease, World War II, extremely low-fi 78 rpm records and telephones that – incredible as it sounds today – could not even shoot video.
Your ancestors a few generations removed would view your life today as the realization of some utopia, a golden age.
Of course, America also has an exceptional past.
Fireworks will fill the skies this weekend because our nation’s founding was revolutionary – not in the sense of replacing one set of rulers with another, but in placing political authority in the hands of the people.
Our Declaration of Independence is a timeless statement of inherent rights, the true purposes of government and the limits of political authority.
Our core beliefs are enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the longest-serving foundation of liberty in history.
Our nation’s growth and prosperity have been extraordinary. How did our small republican experiment transform and dominate global culture and society?
Geography played a big role. Buffered by two oceans and a rugged frontier, we had plenty of cheap land and vast natural resources. (But then so did countries like Russia and Brazil.)
Entrepreneurs were given free license to innovate and create. Profit was never something to apologize for. Rather it was viewed as proof that the businessman offered customers something more valuable than the money they traded.
Historically, we have opened our arms to tens of millions of immigrants who dreamed of a better life and helped to build this country.
In the process, we developed an astounding capacity for tolerance. Today we live peaceably alongside each other, unperturbed by differences of religion or ethnicity.
I’m not suggesting that other nations don’t have proud histories, unique traditions or beautiful cultures. I’m delighted when I get a chance to visit Sydney or Buenos Aires, not to mention Paris or Rome. There’s a lot to love about day-to-day life in other countries.
But people around the world don’t talk about the French dream or the Chinese dream. Only one nation is universally recognized as the land of opportunity.
That’s because America cultivates, celebrates and rewards the habits that make men and women successful. Anyone with ambition and grit can move up the economic ladder. Everyone has a chance to improve his or her lot, regardless of circumstances.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said:
|America’s future has never been brighter. The U.S. has the best universities, hospitals and businesses on the planet, and our people are the most entrepreneurial and innovative in the world, from the factory floor to the executive suite. We have by far the widest, deepest and most transparent capital markets, and a citizenry with an unparalleled work ethic and “can do” attitude.
American ingenuity, technology and capital markets have created dramatic improvements in communications, transportation, manufacturing, computing, retailing, food production, construction, healthcare, finance, pharmaceuticals, robotics, sensors, artificial intelligence, genetics and dozens of other industries.
We can’t even imagine all the fantastic innovations that lie ahead of us.
The notion that America is an exceptional nation is not, as some would argue, just a crude strain of patriotism.
Our country embodies timeless ideals, an optimistic attitude, and an enthusiastic endorsement of the pursuit of happiness.
If you’re looking for something to celebrate today, try this: Americans are living longer, healthier, safer, richer, freer lives than any people in history.
Yes, we have made missteps along the way and face no shortage of problems and challenges today.
But today you might celebrate who we are, what we’ve done and just how far we’ve come.