This is a reply that I wrote on an article by Daniel Hodge titled: America, The Best Country Next To 10 Others. Follow that link to read his article. The following were my thoughts:
In my view, the thing that makes America stand out (call it “number 1″ or “the best”) among other nations has nothing to do with our productivity, our healthcare, or our education system. It can be summed up in one word: Liberty.
I believe the reason we have a productive nation, a decent education system, and good healthcare, springs from our nation’s backbone of liberty. The truly sad thing about America today is how few people there are that fully grasp how preciously fragile liberty is, and how unique it is to America.
The foundation of our government is built upon several revolutionary (not to mention, Biblical) concepts that nurture this idea of liberty. These are best illustrated, not by me, but from reading them directly:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…” -The Declaration of Independence
This idea that freedom (liberty), rights, and happiness are not given to individuals by governments, but are bestowed on every individual by our divine Creator gives value to each human being. In doing so – it acknowledges that each human being has the power to choose their own destiny and that individuals loan that power to the government. Thus, the government’s purpose is to use that power to protect and nurture liberty. The acknowledgment of this idea in one of the three major founding documents of our nation is remarkable when you really think about it, and I think, something radically unique to America as a nation.
It should be mentioned that the founders of our nation were good studies of human nature. They thus instigated a 3 branch system government with checks and balances designed not to allow too much power in the hands of any one body. They did this because they knew Liberty would be crushed if too much power ended up in the hands of the State.
Also, don’t be fooled. Often, when people talk about “living the American dream” they mention material things like owning houses and cars, or making money (or the buzzword: Success). This is a fundamental misunderstanding. The American Dream is about having the freedom to pursue your own interests (including religion) throughout your life. (so long as your dream does not infringe on another person’s – which is why it was necessary to instate a government that upholds the Rule of Law).
Also, you mention the United States not requiring citizens to learn foreign languages. And thank God this is true! I’m not sure you realize what you are advocating here. Like I mentioned above, it is not the governments job to make its citizens do one thing or another. That’s not liberty, it’s tyranny.
Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s very important to learn foreign languages. But it is the individuals free choice to realize the importance of becoming bilingual in a globalized world. Then it is up to them to take the steps to learn other languages. Perhaps the government could encourage this – but requiring it flies in the face of what makes this nation great. In my view, if there is anything that is weakening American citizens, it’s their increasing reliance on The State to solve their problems. (On a personal level, I would rather be free, than educated.)
And I am not advocating glossing over America’s flaws, of which we have many. But in this nation it is the responsibility of the citizen to strive to become better – not the State. The best thing about America revolves around the state not forcing, but encouraging positive growth in it’s citizens and giving them the freedom to do so (also discouraging regressive or destructive behavior).
Anyway, if you want to talk about the decline of America – then you should be concerned about the back-benching of liberty. Again, the greatness (or best-ness) of America is its unique system of government that should be encouraging and nurturing the freedom given to man by God. As American’s, (second to the cause of Christ as Christians) I think these are the ideas we should promoting around the world (instead of crappy movies, music and cheeseburgers.)
That’s my ten cents. Sorry if it’s a little disjointed.
So there’s my opinion. What do you think makes America great (or perhaps, not so great…)?