What Is the American Secret?

On July 4th, a great day, I came across this characterization of General Douglas MacArthur that seemed to speak not simply to MacArthur’s exceptionalism but America’s:

“Always a man of faith, self-confidence, and buoyant optimism, MacArthur had seen opportunities where other men saw problems and difficulties.” (Army history John Miller, Jr., quoted in William Manchester’s magisterial American Caesar)

You can say a lot about what has made America unique (which is the heart of “exceptionalism,” not moral perfection), but it strikes me that this encapsulates much of this country’s history. A sense of hope, a connection to faith, and a stubborn refusal to give in to despair speak to the American spirit. These words are deeply meaningful: when one could give up, one sees opportunities where others see problems and difficulties.

We live in challenging, tumultuous times, times when the church of Christ faces settled opposition, and when the permanent things are under fire. We have a choice: we can read our days to find problems, or we can read them to find opportunities.

July 4th reminds us that many in the past have chosen the latter, and scorned the former.


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