Can positive thinking save the U.S.?
“For centuries, we’ve soothed our anxieties with wishful thinking,” said Gregory Rodriguez in the <em>Los Angeles Times.</em>
Los Angeles Times
Americans are famously optimistic about the future. The question is why? said Gregory Rodriguez. What we show the world is a deeply ingrained insistence on seeing the bright side, passed down from 17th- and 18th-century settlers who spun “a national narrative of patriotic values and heroism that, like a magic charm, still protects and embodies American greatness.”
But we have always harbored secret doubts. Since Colonial times, American culture has been heavily shaped by its Puritan forebears, who combined soaring expectations of this new society as the “city upon a hill” with “a wicked fear of failure.” In this chosen land, you either earned your success and your salvation, or failed the test and were cast into hell. That Darwinian worldview makes for a lot of individual anxiety. “For centuries, we’ve soothed our anxieties with wishful thinking.” America, we tell ourselves, is the exceptional nation that will always prevail over all enemies and tribulations; “better days are just a positive thought away.”
With our economy now in tatters, the nation deep in debt, and other nations challenging our pre-eminence, our long-standing illusions may no longer suffice. Perhaps it’s time to start facing “stark reality.”