One night, Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer of CNN's Parker-Spitzer posed this question to their guests: "When you hear the words 'American Exceptionalism', what do you think of?"
To a man, and to a woman, each guest spoke of the American people – their resilience, their diversity. One guest spoke of America's freedoms – of speech, religion, etc. They all made good points, except...many nations on Earth have freedom of expression. And all of the world's peoples are resilient; many far more resilient than we, having to daily endure drought, famine, and pestilence.
As for diversity: The Congo, alone a nation of 60 million people, has over 200 distinct ethnic groups. And what about England, that cornerstone of Western civilization where the most common name for boys born in 2010 is Muhammad. Try that for diversity, America.
No, where the United States exceeds all nations in exceptionalism is in the land, itself. From "sea to shining sea," America has more grand vistas, more fertile farmland, and more square miles of habitable space than any other nation on earth.
One needs only to drive across this country - something i did in the 1983 - to see for himself the extent of America's bounty. It inspires. You certainly marvel at the Spirit of those early pioneers who pushed handcarts and Conestoga wagons over mountains and across rivers. But peoples have moved like that for millennia. Imagine the hardships the first Americans endured as they crossed Siberia and the treacherous land bridge that is now the Bering Straits to get here.
Once they made their way down into what would become the "continental US", they could not have known that they have discovered the "Goldilocks Zone." It is that special place between "too-cold Canada" and "too hot Mexico," uniquely separated from much of the world's madness by two great oceans. It is there they lit a fire and warmed it up for the rest of us - this land that is "just right."
Yes we are exceptional people, but only when we are humbly thanking God for this exceptional piece of ground.