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  • Five Great Virtues that Make Americans Amazing

    On the day when everyone celebrates America and the glorious document that justifies its existence, I’d like to offer three cheers for the amazing Americans who make up this great country. After all, we revere the principles of the Declaration of Independence because they give rise, when applied, to a nation of self-reliant, generous, hard-working and courageous people—a people whose passion for liberty fuels a vibrant civil society that is a true wonder to behold. In this spirit, here are five great virtues that I, a foreigner living here for several years already, still marvel at on a daily basis:

    Philanthropy: Americans give more and in greater proportion than anyone else in the world: no other country comes even close in the private production of public goods.  Nothing is more indicative of a healthy civic mindset that recognizes that the duty to help others is not discharged by paying taxes.

    Volunteerism: It’s not just money that Americans donate—it’s their precious time too. More than 60 million Americans volunteer each year to help their communities and sustain countless organizations that work to address every conceivable social ill under the sun.

    Faith: Not only does America remain one of the last outposts of Western civilization where people believe in God and attend religious services, it also offers the amazing spectacle of people of all faiths harmoniously cooperating—not merely coexisting. Americans convert, intermarry, and vote for people of other faiths and no one seems to mind.  The Supreme Court is made up of six Catholics and three Jews—only in America!

    Tolerance: While certain voices would have you believe that America is a hotbed of racism seething with intolerance, no other nation in the history of the world has allowed minorities to go as far as in life as the US. What other country has a comparable black middle class—to say nothing of the countless African-Americans, from Barack Obama to Clarence Thomas, who have reached the highest echelons of society?

    “The Sky is the Limit” Mindset: Americans ignore the apocalyptic naysaying voices of the egalitarian left and continue to believe in their heart of hearts that if they work hard and apply themselves, the sky’s limit. With 272 self-made billionaires—that’s “b” as in billions—can you blame them?

    This list doesn’t claim to be exhaustive and it is most definitely idiosyncratic. I welcome your thoughts: what in your opinion makes Americans amazing?

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Five Great Virtues that Make Americans Amazing

    1. Something that I've heard said from enough foreign friends of mine as well as writers outside this country that they like about Americans (that I hadn't thought about until they mentioned it) is the idea that we, as a people, are unwilling to accept negative outcomes. We're the nation of constant improvement, whether that be from coming together to meet challenges or to improve our station in life on our own. It's why many in Europe call us a "self-help nation," and, while their implications drawn from that aren't always positive, the thoughts about the sentiment almost always are.

    2. Tom says:

      These are not true virtues – in the sense that they fundamentally define the actions necessary to enable one to gain values and enhance his life. How about starting with rationality – the recognition of reason as one's guide to his choices and actions. And then independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness and pride. That the core of a pro-individual life morality.

    3. SylviaMB says:

      This is not a virtue, but it is quintessentially American: Our smiles. I’ve heard it said that one of the things that Americans inadvertently import everywhere they go is that big cheesy American smile. We can’t help it. We meet new people, we smile. We see new sights, we smile. We accomplish a goal, we smile. We do a good job, we smile. We hear of other people’s successes, we smile. We get a new idea, we smile.
      Not a virtue, but some essential parts of our national character are what make that smile ubiquitous. We actually like to face new challenges. We actually like hard work. And contrary to popular belief, most of us actually like our jobs. And we have an unshakable faith in God and his gifts to us.

    4. SylviaMB says:

      To continue:
      I told him they were all wrong. What could strike more fear in the hearts of America’s enemies than the smiles of American warriors? A smiling enemy is a puzzlement to those who face us in war. What they don’t realize is our fighting men enter the fray convinced that we will win the war, vanquish the enemy, and then greet the vanquished with a smile and a handshake and say: Okay, let’s rebuild together, I know we can do it.” It’s looking forward to that final outcome that causes the smile even in war.
      The welcoming, wanting-to-face-new challenges, facing the future, believing, can-do spirit of every true American is contained in every smile that bursts out on our faces wherever we go, whatever we do. I think it’s a gift from God.

    5. I'mstillstanding says:

      MichaelFisk has it right, it is the first explanation that comes to mind, when I think about what it means to be an American.

      If our Republic would be governed as it was meant to be by our brilliant Constitution, there would be minimal government intrusion in every ordinary citizens' lives. We would feel the true value of what freedom really is, the ability to go as high and as far as you like, without fear or repression. It is why we are the eternal optimists. The following quotation explains it all – "Winners never quit, because quitters never win".

      However, we are in great danger of losing this optimism. If we continue to let government grow at the rate it has over the past 2 years, and allow the Executive branch of the government to continue to ignore the 10th amendment, then I'm afraid most foreigners are going to see a radical shift in the change of attitude by Americans. I see it already beginning to happen.

    6. Susan McHugh says:

      Not sure why the article link is not shortened when trying to share via twitter mobile app. The tweet appears with number of characters way over 140 limit. :(. Thanks for looking into sharing via mobile device so we can share quickly while on the run.

    7. Jack says:

      I have succeeded and failed, never has an outcome stopped me from going forward. I contribute , volunteer, have started businesses, worked for many, and still I feel no boundaries. This is the attitudes of America, I embrace it and honor it. David you expose to all some of the great things about us, keep it up!

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