Welcoming America in the club of Not Good Enough countries
I think you were aware of the eyes of the whole world fixed on you — and you liked that. The child prodigy of a country, breaking the dust-covered customs of the Old World, spreading its God-blessed power to the farthest corners of the earth. We adored you. We hated you. We based our faith in universal freedom, equality, and human rights on your successes.
This level of overconfidence, infuriating yet captivating, can be found in little kids. We rolled our eyes at loud American tourists; we flinched at your version of history, depicting America as the hero saving the day; we despised the wars held in the name of democracy and oil. And yet we couldn’t stop watching your movies, wearing your jeans, and counting your dollars — all proclaiming the exuberant, contagious belief in your exceptionality.
It’s so contagious because no Old World country has a matching level of pride. “Oh, that’s Russia-made”, I’d say about an uncomfortable object; “Well, that’s Italy”, my local friends say about a bureaucracy vortex; “Only in Britain” will mark the things that went wrong, according to Stephen Fry. In this sea of doubtful whispers, your sonorous, assertive voice was what everyone wanted to hear— even when the facts suggested otherwise.
the crumbling faith
It hurts to see you like that, now.
With centuries-old racial conflicts splashing out to the streets, uncontained, with conspiracy theories flourishing in the cracks of broken trust, with the rising tensions between the rich and the poor, powerful and powerless, threatening to violate the very principles the country was built upon.
My own home country has a questionable reputation — I’m trained to endure this kind of heartbreak for years. And yet almost every time the hurtful news reach me, I cry.
I can’t imagine going through this unprepared. Not used to carry the weight of your own imperfection.
dealing with the dark ages
You know, the Old World was also young once. Democratic, prideful city-states were flourishing here, fresh religions of love and…