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American Exceptionalism

Every July 4th we celebrate “Independence Day,” the anniversary of when our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776).

The United States of America is the only nation in the history of mankind that formally declared at the time of its founding that its citizens would always be allowed to exercise their God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You and I have had the privilege and opportunity to grow up with freedoms that a majority of the people in the world will never have the chance to experience – freedoms our founding fathers fought and died for.

The Declaration of Independence was the spark that ignited the founding of a great nation.  But that spark was only the beginning.  There was something different about the American people that helped transform America into the most powerful and envied nation in the world.  That “something” was American Exceptionalism.

The first writer to describe America as “exceptional” was the French political historian, Alexis de Tocqueville.  De Tocqueville spent six months in the United States in the 1830’s studying and observing the behavior and attitudes of the American people.  He then returned to France and wrote Democracy in America, a definitive analysis of what he believed was the basis of America’s greatness.

De Tocqueville made it clear that the majority of Americans possessed an essential trait that made America (and Americans) “exceptional.”  Americans insisted on “being their own masters.”  And as masters of their own destiny, they refused to be ruled by their political leaders.

The qualities that our founding fathers and the first Americans possessed that made them masters of their own destiny were self-reliance, self-determination, initiative, ambition, industriousness, perseverance, resilience, and a strong work ethic.

In today’s America, a large percentage of adults no longer possess these critically important qualities.  They have become dependent upon a government that can no longer support them.  Because of the collapsing economy, unemployment, and drastic budget cuts, there is going to come a time when the government “benefits” stop flowing.  When that happens, the people who have become dependent on government assistance will panic and lash out against the people who are their own masters.

Last month a teen mob of over 50 young people stormed into a Walgreens store in Chicago.  After rushing through the store stealing bottled drinks, sandwiches and other items off of the shelves, they fled.  Only three of them were caught.  What happened at Walgreens is a new form of mob action that is spreading throughout the United States.

The members of these mobs all have one thing in common: they lack the education, knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to become “their own masters.”  They are incapable of taking care of themselves.  They belong to a certain segment of the population who have been conditioned to believe they are entitled to receive free handouts for no other reason than the fact that they were born in America.

Here are two quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville (from over 150 years ago) that are worth considering: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money” and “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

We are at a crossroads in America and we are at a crossroads in the Catholic Church.

Our liberty and freedom is in jeopardy because the faith and morality that was the foundation upon which our nation was built has been in decline for over half a century.

Here are some examples of the decline in the faith and morals of a large percentage of Americans and Catholics:

1. The widespread use of modern-day birth control devices and medications that has completely removed God’s integral role in instituting His Divine plan for marriage and the family;

2. The government’s massive expansion of welfare programs that have, in many cases, destroyed the nuclear family by rewarding women for having children out of wedlock;

3. The liberalization of “no-fault” divorce laws that has given men and women the “right” to cancel, for any reason, the “lifetime covenant” they made with each other and God;

4. The complete removal of God from the public school classroom, which has deprived several generations of children of the faith, traditions and fundamentals of how life should be lived;

5. The liberalization of laws concerning the “right” to an abortion, which has given legal cover and justification to women to kill their own unborn children;

6. The passing of “right to die” laws (code words for assisted suicide), that allows for the killing of individuals who do not meet certain quality of life standards;

7. The removal of all restrictions concerning the publication and dissemination of pornography and other lewd materials that condition and encourage men to view women as nothing more than mere objects to be looked upon and used for their own selfish desires; and

8. The aggressive and bold movement by our public education system, the national media, and various politicians to force upon us the legalization of “gay marriage.”

No wonder we’re in such bad shape in this country.

The Catholic Church is the only religious institution in the world that continues to stand firmly against of the most egregious of the above-mentioned moral failures: artificial birth control, divorce, abortion, assisted suicide, and gay marriage.  What we need now more than ever are exceptionally devout Catholics.

For American Exceptionalism to continue, we must return to the strong foundation of faith and morality that was present during the first 150 years of our country’s existence.  Are we up to the task?  I sincerely hope so.

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One Response to “American Exceptionalism”

  1. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Harry,
    This past week I’ve been making my yearly retreat – God’s treat! With lots of mail, email and other “catch-up” to accomplish, I’m trying to keep the “renewal” of the Spirit alive!
    So many areas that need our prayer! Thank you again for another inspiring message. Blessings and love, Sister Roberta

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