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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 21, 2014

Parson to Person: Singular or Exceptional?

By George LaMore | Oct 04, 2013

Now that Vladmir Putin has cautioned our president about thinking America “exceptional,” and in the New York Times, no less, I guess anybody can now get into the fray.
Putin neglects the fact of President Obama’s world tour shortly after election to apologize to world leaders (mostly Arabs) for American’s misdeeds, saying that every country tends to think of itself as exceptional.
True, we all have the same self-estimate, but do we have the track record to back it up? The good that America has done in the world defies comparison.
Anyway, the Nobel Committee found this international groveling so promising, they gave Obama the prize before he had done anything.
Now, that I call not exceptional but singular! From the day I first assigned term papers in college then had to read ‘em all, I realized my students were quite unlike Lake Wobegon where the students are “all above average.” What I found exceptional was that they were individuals, so different. God must favor variety.
Think, if there were nothing “exceptional” about us except that we are all one-of-a-kind, unique and singular, that should be exceptional enough for anybody. There has never been anybody precisely like each of us nor will there ever be.  After all, it is our singularity which is the most exceptional feature of either persons or nations.
The highest estimate we have received is contained in Psalm 8:
“When I consider the work of thy fingers,
The moon and stars that thou hast   made,
What is man that thou art mindful of him?
Thou hast made him a little lower than (God) and have given him dominion over the works of they hands.”
(If is fascinating to note that when the King James Version was published in 1611 translators thought it too blasphemous to say “little lower than God” so they substituted angels.
Well, the scripture certainly is audacious, but remember: we are discussing exceptionalism and singularity here. What else in the universe from subatomic particle to celestial galaxy possess consciousness and self-consciousness, short of God?
Methinks that exceptionalism can lead to an ego trip (Stalin and Chairman Mao come to mind) but both our creed and our currency declare “under God,” and that, itself is the ultimate humility. Let’s settle for “singularity” this round, which should be “exceptional” enough for anybody.

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