The Professor looked up as his small honors political science filed in through the door and took a a seat around the conference table. He let them get settled before speaking.
“I’ve looked over your papers on the staffing of the Trump Administration. You’re making progress,” he said, giving a slight smile. “I’ll select a few of them to be presented before the class. Today, I want you to reflect upon why America is such a different kind of place than most of the rest of the world. What happened? Was it caused by circumstances, sheer coincidences, divine intervention, or some other phenomena? To help you open your minds, I’ll tell you what I think. Recognize that what I’m going to say is, at best, thoughtful conjecture. Please don’t ask me to lay out proof. Most of recorded history is slanted to meet the views and limited observations of the writers. Recorded history is such a small percentage of what happened in the passing of time that, I believe, it should only be used to help you get your analytic thinking started.
“Individual freedom and justice are the two pillars upon which our system of government has been built. From those two pillars come the rule of law and individual freedom of choice. I believe what we were in the 1600s and what we are now is due to the freedom individuals had to seek their own destinies. America is a great nation, the greatest nation in the history of the world. But we are not great because of what the early settlers brought with them. Rather, we are great because of what they left behind in Europe and Asia.
“Our black citizens from Africa never had that same opportunity. Whatever impediments to progress and individual freedom they left behind, they found no advantages when they got here. They did not get off the slave ships into a land of individual freedom and opportunity for them. Instead, they found slavery, and slavery is as far from individual freedom as you can get. Their freedom of choice did not even begin for centuries, until after the Civil War.
“For others, the cultures, rulers, and religions their ancestors sailed away from did not recognize the individual as the basis of society. Conformity to the culture and religion and obedience to the monarch was the code to survival. Nowhere was empowerment of the individual encouraged or tolerated. The genius and drive of individuals to seek their potential and, in the process, build the nation and give the opportunity for masses of people to rise above the subsistence level was never allowed in Europe or Asia when America was being settled. The concept of equality in Europe, Asia, and most of the rest of the world is still not based on the freedom of the individual. To achieve the control necessary for the centralized management of goals, individual freedom is discouraged.
“In those lands, equality is achieved by pulling down or penalizing individual success for the good of the many, instead of encouraging a general uplifting of society. The Fabian socialists, until now mostly in Europe, would argue that approach is simply sacrificing the few for equality of the many. This approach has not worked so far, but its adherents seem to have difficulty recognizing the lessons of history and the costly record in human terms of centralized social engineering from the left or right.
“We have just elected to abandon another quest to level the playing field via social engineering led by a progressive elite. Instead, we need to work toward equal opportunity for all citizens by understanding that equal opportunity does not mean everyone gets an equal share of earned wealth. We all have different levels of ability, motivation, discipline, and luck. To have true individual freedom, we must let those factors play out with little or no meddling by bureaucratic centralists with the ‘best of intentions.’
“It is the people who built this great nation. Not as directed by the government, but by the individual efforts of Americans striving to improve themselves and the country they lived in. For sure, America has natural resources, a good climate, and a protected strategic location. But those are not the reasons we are and can remain a great nation. Greatness is from the work of a proud and free people.”
The Professor paused for a moment to let his words sink in.
“There, in some 700 or so words, I’ve covered hundreds of years, maybe many more. Now it’s your turn. Take the rest of the class to write down your thoughts and reflections on what makes America great, then and now.”
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