The Unexceptional American

In the midst of a global pandemic millions of like-minded Americans uncritically believe they are possessors of secret Covid knowledge that they use to both justify their refusal to get vaccinated and give them rationale to harness those who are intelligently vaccinated.

In the dust of the most recent semi-failed insurrection, millions of Americans continue longing and working to undermine local, state, and the federal government by promoting the (stupid) “Big Lie” that the President and Vice President who received the most votes ever, did not *actually win.

In the aftermath of a disastrous twenty-year misguided war in Afghanistan that most Americans cared little about and most beltway pundits ignored, citizens and media alike believe “they” have the solutions long missing from multiple administrations and military experts both here and abroad.

And in the drainage of failed government control of women, a handful of Christian radicals in Texas, led by the intelligence-deficient governor Greg A-Butt, decided they own all decisions that should be exclusively between women/girls and their medical provider.

America and Americans are spoon-fed the fantasy of individual exceptionalism from birth, through pre-school, up through k-12 and, if one continues, all the way through college and graduate school.

And it is not only through public and private education that Americans are guided to a fairytale land of uniqueness; we are also fed the fantasy in books, movies, cable and network news, and countless documentaries that recount all the great (white) men and few (white) women who created the very fabric of this country that God HIMself ordained to lead all nations to the glory and light of the American light that never dulls.

Our kids are taught about manifest destiny, the world’s greatest deliberative body, their God-given inalienable rights enshrined in the *greatest document after the Christian Bible, and their rights to control all aspects of global money, weaponry, water, land, air, and space because their God has ordained it.

But we also see it in smaller ways that are part and parcel of the propaganda far too many Americans swallow without questions. The raging in public places and at retail workers, using the police as personal “specialness” enforcers, and the insidious use of HOA’s, redlining, gerrymandering, credit scores, interest rates, sundown towns, low wages, and underfunded schools, are all tools given to the majority to reinforce their unique ownership of… everything and which requires everyone else to seek their approval to…exist.

When every American is taught to believe they are special, are any Americans actually special?

That is not to say that you aren’t the light of your parent’s, friend’s, partner’s, or pet’s eye. They love you for who and what you are.

But looked at more broadly, you and I are not special. We are just one of almost three-hundred million people in America, in one of two-hundred countries, on a planet of eight-billion humans.

You don’t possess special knowledge that can change the world. Google doesn’t give you information that no one else has, and YouTube doesn’t have a secret video that exposes hidden truths “They” don’t want you to know.

You don’t have rare skills or exclusively unique abilities. You aren’t the only Sagittarius, Pieces, Aquarius, Leo, Virgo, Gemini, Libra, or holiday baby, third daughter, or eighth son.

You are not the only person who overcame, who moved a lot, who has lost a loved one, or who has been in love or had your heart broken.

You cannot defy gravity, fly, walk through walls or walk on water. Your thoughts about God, Goddess, or Gods are not original. Your religious text wasn’t written by a “God” but by a man or men, and maybe the occasional woman.

Your savior did not visit America, pick your presidents, or bless your Bill of Rights or Constituion. And your god doesn’t give a hoot about your favorite sports team or whether your car starts, or if you send more money to your favorite preacher, pastor, priest, swami, spiritual guru or a crook like Joel Osteen.

The American cult of exceptionalism has been at the front and center of colonization, genocide, enslavement, segregation, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and the driver for amassing the most deadly nuclear weaponry in history.

Our obsession with exceptionalism has led to climate emergencies, polluted land, water, and air the world over, destabilized societies across the globe, and has aided the rise of dictators and right-wing Christian extremists and white nationalists both here and abroad.

We can be defined by our sameness.

What can distinguish us though isn’t our uniqueness but our sameness. Our capacity to empathize because we have similar experiences and heartbreaks. Because we have seen our loved ones pass away, we have witnessed the horror of cancer, of drugs, and of police brutality. We have been poor and hungry. We have gone without and we have hoped the same hope of food, family, friends, and comfort.

It isn’t our exceptionalism that should be our defining trait; it is our ability to identify with each other’s struggles regardless of our station in life, or where we were born, where we live, who we love, or how we look.

We can celebrate our sameness in honesty and love. Even the major religious text are in agreement that we should celebrate our sameness.

Isn’t in written that humans are “created in god’s image?” What is that if not your god telling you that it is sameness, not uniqueness that is to be honored and celebrated?

If there is a creator and if that creator is all-powerful as billions have been taught and led to believe, He or She could have created billions of truly unique humans.

That they did not should be taught with vigor.

They and/or evolution did though chose diversity of species, thoughts, terrains, climates, ideas, and flora and fauna. But for some *reason humans were created or evolved to be the same. Our need for air, water, nutrients, movement, safety, and sleep are the result of the evolution or creation – it doesn’t really matter which one because truth doesn’t need a backstory.

America can move forward and away from stagnation by embracing the success of sameness. We see it in sports and business, in some laws, and in medicine.

And we could see it in government if only those who are in charge embrace the obvious but overlooked truths that matter – or should matter – most to every American:

We don’t travel to different futures. We travel a crowded road to the same future.

And our safety, health, and well-being depends of each other in small and large ways. We can get to where we are going if we focus on the same obstacles before us, move as one, and pack the right tools and equipment that will make our journey safe, enjoyable, and successful.

The alternative is what we are witnessing today: a select few only concerned for themselves.l on a lonely journey to despair and destruction.

But history is littered with failed attempts to move into the future. The attempts failed because too many incorrectly believed the popular lie of “My way or the highway.”

Americans would be wise to remember there aren’t multiple ways forward as a nation, and that we can’t survive long with a significant percentage of the population believing and advocating for one way of governing and a slightly larger percentage believing the opposite.

Nations don’t survive long in such calamitous settings. Not only have we seen it before on these shores, we have watched it play out time and again with allies and foes alike through war, genocide, and destabilization.

The lessons are there to learn from and grow from.

But only if we all study the same lessons and walk away with the same understanding. Because as it is now, it is our differences that are dividing us when it is our sameness that should be leading us.

© 2021 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved. 

Myron J. Clifton is slightly older than fifty, lives in Sacramento, California, and is an avid Bay Area sports fan. He likes comic books, telling stories about his late mom to his beloved daughter Leah, and talking to his friends.  

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