On another thread, we have been discussing America being the greatest country in the world, that is so called “American Exceptionalism.” To which I sez: Our language completely screws up our attempts to communicate, and English is not exceptional in that regard. You call something (or someone) the “greatest” and the implication is that
1. It is 100% great
2. It has always been and always will be 100% great
3. Every single aspect of it is great, which means
4. If you criticize one thing about it you are criticizing all things about it.
I have lived and worked in five Asian countries and visited more, and I am here to tell you that in many ways America is FAR from being the greatest. Whie, for example, America may exceptional in many aspects of University education and our universities are envied the world-over, our K-12 education is a disgrace and ranks among the lowest of any developed society.
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These broad generalities, such as “greatest” are really toxic. They skew communication and cause us to see reality through foggy lenses and especially to unnecessarily, inappropriately inflame ourselves emotionally.
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Originally posted 2016-06-17 05:30:58.
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