I must to start by first by stating this may not sit well with a lot of Americans but I am going to say it anyway. Manifest Destiny sucked!
Yes, I am an American but; this subject leaves me feeling deeply saddened and troubled at the thought of what our European ancestors did to achieve this concept of “Manifest Destiny”. I am not sure what is striking me differently about it at this time as it is not a new subject for me I did learn about it in school and again I am an American but, I just feel very different about it now.
While I do know that people “own” their little piece of land (my family included), who are we to say that we can “own” nature? I guess I sort of see it in reverse. Nature “owns” us. No matter if you believe in the Creator or the Big Bang we all, humans, animals, bugs, plants, germs, cells or what have you, belong to nature. You cannot “own” that which brought you fourth.
The whole concept of Manifest Destiny is really humans coming up with an excuse to be horrible to other humans or animals for their own personal gain. One set of humans did not like where they were because of their bad circumstance so they decided to go to another land and put the people there in almost the same or worse circumstance than they were in to begin with simply to make themselves feel better and then they rationalized it with “Manifest Destiny”.
Manifest destiny is a term for the attitude of the European Americans in the 19th century for the expansion of the United States westward saying that not only could America expand but was destined to expand from coast to coast (History.com, 2010). We have since gone even farther to include Hawaii and Alaska as states as well as the territories of American Samoa, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and Northern Mariana Islands (Price, 2003). However, many Native American tribes suffered either the loss of their land as well as people or both and some tribes were completely killed off. This is the tragedy of “Manifest Destiny”, all to benefit European Americans. I just do not feel that it was as worth it as we thought at the time but few things of this nature ever are.
I know that I was born and raised right here in America and here we do have opportunities that so many others in the world do not have but I do not have to feel good about what my ancestors did to other peoples. I am grateful for being here, I love America but I would love to see what America could have been without treating her native peoples like cattle. How truly beautiful could she have been then? If at all.
I could be wrong in my thinking but I believe that we all have different cultures for a reason. I also believe that all of our cultures and our differences all coming together makes the world a more beautiful place. All cultures, back grounds and colors have something wonderful to contribute to one another, so wiping out one type of peoples are a tragedy for all and a destiny for none.
One example of this that we can see today is the idea of American exceptionalism. In my opinion this concept is not much different than Manifest Destiny. To me American exceptionalism is really the idea that we as Americans are somehow the rich Aunts and Uncles to the rest of the world and that we are somehow better than they are simply because we stand where we do on the playing board of life, this part of the board (Earth) that we call America. It is because of our “place” on this board that we feel that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. WE are dead wrong! Our place on this board is just as infinitesimal as anyone else’s place; WE are just as insignificant as they are if we truly believe that we are above them and not BESIDE them.
If we are truly honest with ourselves and we look at our TRUE history (not the one taught to you in government schools), the violence and hate of this country (that still continues today) is how we got where we are today. Looking back at world history, societies like ours do not last forever, they do fall and when they do, they normally fall hard! Some examples of these would be the Roman Empire (PBS.org, 2006), the Mongol Empire (All Empires, 2007) and the British Empire (The Washington Post, 2015), and this is just to name a few. Really when you think about it, our ideas of “Manifest Destiny” and “American Exceptionalism” stemmed out of what all of these once “Great Empires” thought of themselves and what they did for themselves because we have essentially done the very same things just in slightly different ways.
We need to make some big changes to the way that we think in this country. We need to see that we all share this tiny planet and that all cultures, races, religions, animals and lands are beautiful and not just commodities that are up for grabs. The debate over borders, language and culture in this country is ALMOST a moot one as all lands belong to the world and our differences are what makes our world so GREAT! I say almost because we do still have to protect ourselves from people that are even crazier than we are. However, on the other hand, we also have to protect ourselves from ourselves because we cannot seem to do what is truly right for anyone let alone ourselves.
We need to take a step back and see ourselves through the eyes of the rest of the world; a lot of them see us as the crazy ones who are still trying to control everything. We do not have to get into every conflict that arises in the world. Most conflicts have nothing to do with us and we need to keep out of it. How would you like for a committee to come into your argument with your spouse at your house to say that they will be taking over your household until the conflict is resolved? On top of that they publicize the whole thing and then proceed to act as if they have resolved the issue for you but in reality all they did was make the problem worse. This is what we do on a regular basis in the name of “American Exceptionalism”. This needs to stop!
Is America a great country? Unequivocally YES, I truly believe that we are but we could be even greater. Look, I love being an American, I love my country and I love our culture but I feel that we could be so much more and we are worth so much more. It all starts with one little thing, one small word that has such a big meaning…LOVE. That is all it will take to make us truly great again!
All Empires. (2007, February). The Mongol Empire. Retrieved July 1, 2016, from http://www.allempires.com/article/?q=The_Mongol_Empire
History.com Staff, 2010. Manifest Destiny. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/manifest-destiny
PBS.org. (2006). The Roman Empire: in the first century. Retrieved July 1, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/
Price, R.G., 2003. Territories, possessions, and influenced areas of the United States of America. Retrieved from http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/territories.htm
The Washington Post. (2015, September 8). Map: the rise and fall of the British Empire. Retrieved July 1, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/08/map-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-british-empire/
New World Odor. (2011). [American flag with bald eagle.]. Retrieved from https://newworldodor.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/american-exceptionalism-manifest-destiny-for-shitbirds/