On the occasion of the ten-year anniversary September 11, 2001, I would like to encourage readers to take the time to read the many truly excellent collections in leading U.S. media oulets. A collection of links are at the bottom of this article.
I have written about 11 September previously in this column, directly last year and indirectly on July 23rd this year. But here on the tenth anniversary, I am doing something highly unusual in Norwegian media: I am paying tribute to the United States of America.
The United States is the most ambitious and most successful experience at building a liberal the democracy the world has ever seen. No other country has engendered as much innovation and research, so much art and culture, so much education, and such a rich public debate as the United States, and all that in just a few hundred years.
These have been a few hundred years with many mistakes, internal conflicts, several major wars, a series of recessions and depressions and other crises. Americans have not been broken by any of this, on the contrary. Every crisis has created fertile ground for radical changes that have contributed to a renewed and improved national identity.
Even the most self-righteous, authoritarian administrations have not succeeded in thwarting American dissidents. In spite of all kinds of setback, American idealism has never been overtaken by cynicism. Dissent is a patriotic obligation. And if anyone should doubt the survival of American meritocracy, consider this: a man with an exotic name, brought up in humble circumstances by a single mother, became president while the country was in a long uphill struggle.
On this occasion, there are two American phenomena I want to emphasize as particularly admirable:
One is the widespread mentality that a healthy society is a process, not an end state. As a result, there is a public debate that is constantly evolving, where new new elements and new voices constantly enter the fray, where "Conventional Wisdom" is constantly under attack and fringe opinions find an audience and effective resistance. "The Pursuit of Happiness" means that Americans always seek to improve things, to never settle for conditions that are simply adequate.
It means to view disagreement as necessary, to yearn for a good debate, and to revel in being persuaded to change your mind.
The second is the pursuit of transparency. We can express consternation at political scandals from Teapot Dome to Watergate to Halliburton, Abu Ghraib, but what is truly remarkable is that even the most hidden activities eventually see dayligh. This is the country that, among many, many others Thomas Jeffersen, Joshua Chamberlain, Teddy Roosevelt, John E. Moss, Edward Murrow, and Rachel Carson proudly called their native land, though they they did so much to change it.
In the last ten years, American ideals have been put to many tests, and so they have passed every single. The country is still facing serious problems that will take time to resolve, but none of them is fatal. Because Americans refuse to give up on optimism, hope and faith that willpower, commitment, sacrifice and ingenuity will always prevail.
I wish we had more American conditions in our country and around the world.
As promised, here is a collection of some of the best that can be read at the tenth anniversary:
(Article first published on e24.no today in Norwegian, translated by author. Reproduced by kind permission.)