Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The sin of exceptionalism

Of far more significance, and the true and tragic lesson of the epic descent into The Terror, is the summons to vigilance against ourselves — that we should not assume that we are righteous, and our enemies evil; that we can see clearly, and to others are blinded by malice or folly; that we can abrogate the fragile rights of others in the name of our own certainty and all will be well regardless.
          David Andress, The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France

Our word for today is “exceptionalism”

Exceptionalism is the perception or belief that something is exceptional,
superior in some way. 

The idea that something is exceptional is not inherently bad
Some things are exceptional

I have had exceptional meals
And even exceptional cups of coffee
I have heard singers who were exceptional
And met people who, frankly, were exceptional
(although if they truly were exceptional they did not consciously think of themselves that way)

But Exceptionalism
To me that is a different matter

Exceptionalism equals arrogance
Exceptionalism means exalting ones self (AKA narcissism)
or one’ country to a place that is

We’re number one!
We are the best

Pride is one thing!
I like pride
Exceptionalism is something else

Something twisted

Because exceptionalism blinds
It takes us to a place where we can’t see others
And worse,
It takes us to a place where we cannot see ourselves

With exceptionalism we cannot see the other person’s pain
We cannot see their desires, their hopes, their expectations

We can only see ourselves
We can only see how that person can benefit us
Or hurt us
We can only see them as pawns or enemies

And we hold ourselves apart, above

What is even more devastating is the fact that with exceptionalism
We cannot see ourselves honestly

The very idea of exceptionalism makes it impossible
for us to truly evaluation our attitudes and actions

America, my country right or wong?
Its “Amercia, my country, and we are always right
And if something goes wrong?
It’s not our fault

With exceptionalism we are always the hero
Or always the victim
We are never the perpetrator, never the villain

And this inability to be ethically, spiritually, and morally honest?

That leads to brutality
To behaviors never examined, always excused

Children in cages
The deportation of good people
Who have contributed to our society
Brutal military moves that discount other people, other countries
Wars that about power and money, not freedom and morality

We want power
We want wealth
We want to feel comfortable and safe
So anything goes, if we do it

Because we are exceptional

And finally we get down that really ugly part
Being exceptional we put ourselves above consequences

We don’t believe there should be consequences
(because we are NEVER wrong)
We don’t’ believe there every will be consequences
We fall into a false sense of invulnerability

We don’t believe anything can ever come back to haunt us
No matter what we do, we will win
Come out on top
And we believe no one would EVER hold us accountable

9/11 should have destroyed that myth
It didn’t
Our recent assassination is proof positive

There are those voices
I am hearing them from all sides
Suggesting those countries we have invaded occupied and attacked
Should not even think about responding
Because we will target them
Their people
Their culture
Their heritage
Their sacred sights


Exceptionalism, in this case let’s call it what it is
Nationalism (not patriotism)
Makes for an abuser
Nations can be malignant narcissists too

In the end exceptionalism harms everyone
Those who hold it
Those who are abused by it

Which is why Jesus challenged us to go a different way
Remember all that stuff he said
About humility?
About repentance?
About putting others first? (No America First, sorry)
About kindness
The list goes on!!!!

When John the Baptism saw exceptionalism, he challenged it
“You brood of vipers”

When Jesus saw exceptionalism, he challenged it

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

I love my country
But it is my fear that America Exceptionalism
(which is downright false,  we are pretty low, and sinking on most indicators
46th in health for example.)
Will lead us into an “epic descent into terror”

It will make us even more abusive
Less empathic and kind
Less Generous
More aggressive

It is my fear that we will become
If we are not already (under the current administration)

The world’s tormenter.
The country that blindly acts in greedy, abusive, destructive way

There is a generous side to our nation
There are kind and beautiful people in it
But exceptionalism is a cancer that may be killing what is good

We must be vigilant, and honest, regarding our own behavior
we must not assume that we are righteous, and our enemies evil;
We cannot believe that our behavior is always honorable
While others are driven by malice or jealousy

We must learn where true greatness lies 

This is greatness (Philippians 2)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

No comments:

Post a Comment