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The Problem with America and its Exceptionalism
Ever hear of the Dunning-Kruger Effect?
There's something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. If you look it up on Wikipedia, you'll see the following definition:
"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from people's inability to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their level of competence."
TLDR: If you can't self-reflect, it's pretty likely you're too dumb to know just how dumb you are.
So, we have this country. It was founded in 1776 with the inspiration being that there needed to be a country that was not a monarchy but instead drew its power from the people. So, they banged out a founding document or 3 and decided "WE'RE EXCEPTIONAL!"
The truth is, they really weren't. Well, compared to other countries at the time, they may have been, but they actually sucked at creating what they were trying to create.
First off, they essentially defined "people" as land owners who were 99.99999% white men who could actually afford to own land. What that meant was that much more than half the population wouldn't have a say in who led the country, their state, or their city or town.
Second, women rarely owned land back then, which meant that they wouldn’t be voting either. So, you can really tell that the "Founding Fathers" were not coming from a very inclusive place.
Third, a good number of these men, and men who could afford to own land, in general, also owned slaves. The Founding Fathers and We, The People, were so OK with slavery that it would be another hundredish years after America was born before slavery would be banned--and We, The People, were so OK with not counting women as "We, The People," they were kept out of the "self-determination" game right until a hundred years ago.
So, with just those three points, you can see a lot of problems with their mindset and ours.
In those early days, the Founding Fathers thought they knew what was best and that the average schmuck on the street couldn't be trusted to know who should hold office but LAND OWNERS WERE SMART!
Did they ever revisit that choice? Not really. Jefferson revisited the concept of slavery a few times, if you know what I mean, but when Lincoln finally made the call to end it, he still did not believe that black people should have all of the same rights as white people and that they should probably just go back to Africa.
Americans (and probably humans, in general) have a serious aversion to self-reflection. By default, this means we are not capable of accurately determining our own level of competency. Remember all the “Dunning-Kruger” stuff at the top of this piece?
Put another way, as a people, since we can't even admit that we are racist and sexist, that our ignorance of science is risking the ability of our planet to sustain us, and that our law enforcement and healthcare systems are broken, we are doomed to continue living the lie we've been telling ourselves since the birth of our nation--that we are exceptional.
With just a little bit of imagination this can change, however. We simply need to take a look at ourselves as individuals, as a people, and make sure we are living by our own rules. Then, we harass our leaders in business and in government until they do the same. If they refuse, then we must each choose to protest those leaders until they do.
Or else we keep living the lie that we are perfect--the best country in the world--when we can't even live by our own rules.
Kinda puts all this stuff going on with right wingers into perspective, doesn’t it?
All these attempts to make it harder for certain Americans to vote, for American children to learn the accurate history of slavery in school, and black people, along with all other marginalized groups, to be able to live the same lives that we white folks do—it’s all because they are not able to self-reflect and recognize the failings of the past and the present America. They are too afraid to admit that they are not Exceptional Americans. They want to keep breaking our own rules.
Look at how many of them still support Trump after he tried to break our own rules. They need to understand that they have been falling prey to their own wishful thinking and that they are ultimately bad people because they refuse to do what’s right—face their country’s past and work to make it better now.
Isn’t it crazy that Lincoln, a Republican, was a Go-Back-To-Africa guy?
Actually, now that I remember that Abe was a Republican, it doesn’t seem so crazy at all.