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The best country in the world and American Exceptionalism Options
towan52
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 7:52:48 AM

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Location: Waco, Texas, United States
This is not an anti-American post - just some reflections.

Yesterday, in the impeachment debate, several congressmen referred to the USA as the best country in the world and it appears to be a belief shared irrefutably by many US citizens. It also goes alongside the conviction of "American Exceptionalism".

So, I don't know which is the best country in the world, but neither does anybody else reading this! The USA may be the most militarily powerful country in the world, but from any other criterion, let's use the Scottish verdict of "not proven".

A few years ago, while taking a statistics class (fascinating subject completely alien to Fox News) I conducted a survey of the "best" countries in the world. Using statistics from a vast array of organisations such as: WHO, Homeland Security, the UN, WTO, census reports and many more, I came to this non-conclusion! Depending on the criteria used e.g. happiest, healthiest, safest, wealthiest, most secure, most democratic and so on, various countries came out on top - but never the USA. Scaninavian countries came out consistantly well but the Democratic Republic of Congo (as you might expect) did not fare well. My only solid conclusion was that you would have to live and work in many (if not all) countries in order to make a worthwhile judgment and even then it depends on the weight given to each criteria.

American Exceptionalism is a figment of the national imagination. Yes, Americans are exceptional - in just the same way as the citizens of any other country you care to name. They are exceptional because of their histories, their cultures and their outlook - each unique in one way or another. A friend from England asked me recently what I thought of Americans. Upon reflection, I thought that if you wanted to be flattering, you would say, friendly, generous, kind and resourceful. On the other hand, if you wanted to be adversely critical, you might remark, ingnorant, arrogant, insular and violent. If we are honest, we can all admit to knowing people with at least one of these characteristics. These are all human attributes or failings and exist in every country in the world. All of which makes "Best Country" comparisons or contentions completely asinine and fatuous.

As always, je dis ça comme ça, Ich sag ja nur, sólo digo, minä vain sanon, я просто говорю or I'm just sayin'
Gary98
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 12:04:12 PM

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If half of the population think the way you do, the U.S.A. will have a very bright future. Looks like you were not taught creationism in Texas?
Gary98
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 12:32:22 PM

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This comment touches on American exceptionalism too.
Romany
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 12:35:51 PM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

I think its valuable, at this historic point in time, for people to discuss things at a deeper level than the usual "You're deplorable - Well whaddabout you?" level.

Every crisis point in the history of any country has resulted in picking over the pieces and learning lessons from it. Those who don't crumble into the dust of time. Which, of course, is news to no-one.

But I don't think many Americans have realised that this IS a crisis-point. And yes, these ideas of "exceptionalism", just like those of racial superiority, male superiority and glorifying violence are things that have led to current events.

The thing is, as with all kinds of propaganda, the inculcation of these ideas - through education, through the workplace, through the Government - is baked into the system and insidious. It's quite common to hear even so-called "Leftist" media talk about the USA as "the greatest/best country in the world" or as the richest, or the most powerful, influential, benign..." or of "Being privileged to have been born in the greatest country in the world".

Meanwhile, in every other country this is being broadcast, this unconscious assumption of superiority has people jumping up and down in their chairs and shouting at the TV. While, when the phrase "...the world has ever known..." is tacked onto the end, people - from the Far East and Middle East, to the whole of Europe, Africa, and the Southern part of the American Continent - are apoplectic with rage and have to take their heart pills.

Back in the day (i.e. at any time before these last few years) being, like most people, absolutely oblivious to American politics or fringe movements (Ah, sweet innocenceBoo hoo! ) I once spoke about America being the Elephant in the Room and FD took off like a Chinese cracker. At that time FD was taking it upon himself to represent the majority of America and tore me a new one; so one quickly understood that the whole key to maintaining exceptionalism was forbidding any dissention.

The other thing he insisted on educating me about was that, in America, Michael Moore was considered a traitor to America. Also that America laughed at him. (Which, even before I knew anything about Republicans, I considered somewhat bizarre: if Moore was a traitor why would he call forth gales of merriment?).

I, and millions everywhere, however, turn to him for the truth. And because he looks at problems in his own country as we outside it do: clear-eyed. Taking notes of what's good, what's bad; what's injurious, what heals...from an hollistic end-point: what consequences actions have, in relation to humanity on a global scale. And how we stack up on that scale. So that's why I'd like you guys who wonder what outsiders think, to watch his latest vid. if you haven't already.

I can quite see how many people could dismiss this as just one of your common-or-garden conspiracy theories. But it's also exactly how people outside America are thinking. We've been watching it all unfold, with violence inevitable; and yes, if that isn't dealt with punitively internecine war presents as the inevitable outcome. Get a cup of coffee and get comfy: it's not short. But its insightful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQCsVVVknzQ
towan52
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 1:56:45 PM

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Joined: 8/28/2012
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Location: Waco, Texas, United States
Gary98 wrote:
If half of the population think the way you do, the U.S.A. will have a very bright future. Looks like you were not taught creationism in Texas?


Fortunately, I wasn't uneducated in Texas.
Gary98
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 4:52:54 PM

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
towan52 wrote:
Gary98 wrote:
If half of the population think the way you do, the U.S.A. will have a very bright future. Looks like you were not taught creationism in Texas?


Fortunately, I wasn't uneducated in Texas.

I had hoped that you were. Much hopeful that way.
Gary98
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 5:07:31 PM

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Romany wrote:

I think its valuable...


Exceptionalism, hegemony, Leader of Western world and old Chinese Mandate of Heaven all denote domination: don't mess with me/us and just listen/follow.

UK used to be Great Brittan. And after a guy corrected me to say he is from UK instead of Great Brittan, I realized you guys are much wiser than us Leaders here.
Karol555loraK
Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021 8:12:38 PM
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Joined: 1/9/2017
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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Dancing

Besides: I don't feel like engaging in the discussion too extensively for now, though I think that glorifying resourcefulness and celebrating opportunity themselves (regardless whether alleged or genuine) are not among the most egregious pieces of propaganda. There are much worse foundation myths galore, and those inflict insidious harm not only on outsiders or ones perceived as such (as it was already pointed out) but also on the very people who subconsciously adhere to them (and I mean it). That being said, it all depends on the nature of the convictions, and not all stereotypes have a decidedly negative effect on the society. To cut a long story short, if you want to believe that the place where you live is somewhat special or unique, go ahead, unless you encroach on the rights of others. Such a concept does not and should not entail the superiority of its inhabitants (just as the fact that a child favours his own parents is not problematic for his peers, who, most probably, share his opinion with regard to that matter).

Finished. Hope it's holistic enough. :)
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, January 15, 2021 7:42:48 PM

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Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
I'm proud to be a Finn. A Finnish soldier, though retired. My two sons spent their conscript service in the same army base where I did. My father battled in the WW2, against the Soviets.

During WW2, no other country, having war against Soviets, survived. We can't but thank our fathers and mothers.

Now we are a wealthy country. Listed on top in different categories. I don't care. To me this place is the best place to live. I think it's the same to all Americans. No place like home place.
towan52
Posted: Saturday, January 16, 2021 11:49:15 AM

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Location: Waco, Texas, United States
[quote=Karol555loraK]There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Dancing/quote]

I remember that saying together with: "If you lined up all the staticians in the world, they'd all point in different directions."

These comments are usually quoted by folks totally unfamiliar with statistics. However, statsistics is a precise mathematical science that (given an appropriate sample) can point to exact conclusions together with a precise margin of error. I too was sceptical until I took a statics class as part of my math content undergraduate degree. I made A+
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, January 16, 2021 1:26:11 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
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From "The Newsroom Season" 1 Episode 1
America is Not the Greatest Country in the World

Here's the raw link if you prefer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTjMqda19wk&ab_channel=tpratt441

One of the best television shows of my lifetime.

ETA Hey, anyone know how to embed a video in a post?

Hope123
Posted: Saturday, January 16, 2021 1:49:50 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 9,998
Neurons: 57,037
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Epiphileon wrote:
From "The Newsroom Season" 1 Episode 1
America is Not the Greatest Country in the World

Here's the raw link if you prefer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTjMqda19wk&ab_channel=tpratt441

One of the best television shows of my lifetime.

ETA Hey, anyone know how to embed a video in a post?



Drago does, I think. I'd be interested too.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 5:38:33 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,826
Neurons: 234,092
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
'Fraid not.
I can do it on the Quora platform, but not here.

What you CAN do is embed a GIF of a couple of seconds of video - then use that as the hyperlink.

{img}https://i.gifer.com/4ZpO.gif{/img} (first step)

{url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08NlhjpVFsU}{img]https://i.gifer.com/4ZpO.gif{/img}{/url}



Click on the GIF for the full video.
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