WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN: THE MYTH OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM


William Sloane Coffin

I get always a little uptight when I hear politicians say how exceptional (America is). — John Kerry—

It is indeed a myth that has been perpetuated by a nation of people who for 150 years stood by as a group and participated, directly or indirectly in slavery, discrimination and racial and religious violence. All of this happened and America still prospered. And why is this the case?

The reason is the business of America is business. That driving call to industry has made America wealthy beyond the dreams of any sultan or emperor of old. And for a time that wealth was handed down to the middle class in the form of a home they could afford, personal transportation and employment opportunity. Today, as in the Gilded Age, that has changed. The Great Recession is a cautionary tale just as the Great Depression was that capitalism unchecked can be the greatest destructive force in the world. I still believe that America could be exceptional in the future if Americans can set aside their differences and seek a level playing field and simply stop worrying about what the other guy has or does in his bedroom. Life isn’t a contest; it’s a journey. Along that road you will need help from and need to offer help too many people unlike you. Living that sort of life as a nation would make America truly exceptional.

Qu’ul cuda praedex nihil!

William Sloane Coffin
Contributing Editor—Civil Rights & Faith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
88 Melnar 3 AS

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