Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2021 Blog Number 2
January 11, 2021
I know that this is not politically correct but I do believe in American Exceptionalism. I do think that our historic succession of power, in a world that had monarchies, was exceptional and is now imitated. I will never forget the summer than I learned this in practical reality as opposed to a theory. That was the summer that I fell in love with America.
I took a month-long trip to Spain during the summer of 1974 as a student with the Foreign Study League. Back home Richard Nixon was under investigation. In Spain, General Franco became ill and Prince Juan Carlos took over during Franco’s illness. My group was in Barcelona at the time. This city, with a long history of a desire to break away from Spain, surged with unrest. It was the first time that I heard explosions and machine gun fire. Police demanded to see passports at gunpoint. The national police and the army were both mobilized. I kept wondering why everyone was so upset over a leader who was ill. I had seen presidents come and go and no one got that upset over it.
Our trip continued and at the end of the month we returned home to become immersed in the political chaos of our country in the midst of the Watergate scandal. The day arrived when Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became president. Unlike Spain, our nation did not mobilize the army or the national police. One president left and another took over without violent protests. Many people in the neighborhood decried Nixon’s resignation while others celebrated it. They argued, but there was no reason to mobilize peace keeping forces. We, in the United States were exceptional.
My heart was broken on Wednesday as I saw a mob break into the Capital because they disagree with an election outcome. People that I know who were cheering this mob on expressed the belief that the election was “stolen.” This is the third time in my lifetime that I have heard that an election was “stolen.” Most historians that I have read believe that John Kennedy stole his election from Richard Nixon, yet Nixon refused to contest it. Most of us remember the George W Bush election win against Al Gore. Many still believe that this election was “stolen” yet it was settled by the courts, not mob action. These, I believe, are other examples of American Exceptionalism.
This past week I looked at a number of Facebook posts from friends who are immigrants from Latin America. They were outraged by the behavior at the capital. These immigrants claimed that political violence in their home countries was a major reason for wanting to live in the United States. The lack of political violence was, for these immigrants, American Exceptionalism.
It is sad for me that some of our citizens did not exhibit American Exceptionalism last week. I wonder how we can reclaim it. Perhaps it is up to all of us who know people who support such mob activities to tell those folks, “we don’t act like that here. We Americans are exceptional. Let us all act like exceptional people.” Will you join me in this task? Together we can reclaim our exceptionalism.
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/