In this short game of life, why not grant yourself great exceptions? To disdain the popular prejudices and virtues of our time. To form ourselves, to select our own virtues for ourselves, and to cultivate ourselves into something new.
In praise of American exceptionalism
One of my greatest windfalls to have happened to me was to be born in America, and grown up in America. Too often I hear Europeans (or other nations) sneer at Americans and say:
You all think you are so exceptional (as if this were a bad thing, or a vice).
But let us consider all popular culture, music, fashions, devices (Apple, iPhone) and cars (Tesla). They are all the manifestation of American culture and ideology– notions of individualism, individuation (becoming an individual), and being exceptional.
You are exceptional.
Consider: there is nobody in the world out there like you. Nobody on planet earth which has the same DNA as you, or the same life experiences. You are the amalgamation of all the randomness, chaos and chance which has befallen upon you, and also a combination of your own interests, efforts, and self-determinations.
Why *not* be exceptional?
Much of Christian morality we are taught:
To outshine others is a vice.
One must be dim, and not stand out too much, for the fear of making others ‘feel bad’ about themselves.
Critique of American individualism:
Much of the individualism is pseudo-individualism; based on consumerist practices and purchasing behaviors, rather than actual behavioral or mental/philosophical differences.
Even in more recent times, lifestyle just ends up becoming another purchasable consumer good.
Thus the goal here is:
Deep, true, individualism … in which you pride yourself on being different — not just in terms of what you buy, use, or how you live, but how you think, behave, and your (private) virtues you strive towards!
Become the change which you desire to see manifested in the world!
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Put a Dent in the Universe.