Feature

Can positive thinking save the U.S.?

&ldquo;For centuries, we&rsquo;ve soothed our anxieties with wishful thinking,&rdquo; said Gregory Rodriguez in the <em>Los Angeles Times.</em>

Gregory Rodriguez
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.”

Recommended

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties
Boris Johnson
partygate

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan
President Biden.
Picture of Harold MaassHarold Maass

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities
Ukrainian tank in Sievierodonetsk
encirclement in luhansk

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?
President Biden and Xi Jinping.
Briefing

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?

Most Popular

John Oliver has some complaints about Subway, the sandwich chain
John Oliver
Johnsplaining

John Oliver has some complaints about Subway, the sandwich chain

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP
Donald Trump.
Opinion

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP

Why are airline ticket prices so high right now?
An airplane.
Briefing

Why are airline ticket prices so high right now?