Being Born as an American Doesn’t Make You Exceptional

American Flag

A great place to live

“The trouble with this country is that there are too many people going about saying, ‘The trouble with this country is…’”
–Sinclair Lewis

“In America you can say anything you want, as long as it doesn’t have any effect.”
–Paul Goodman

I went to West Point. I served in the Army for five years. I spent a year and a half of that time in Bosnia right after the civil war of the early 1990s helping to preserve what was, at the time, a fragile peace.

I have friends who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and probably countless other countries defending (or exporting, depending on your point of view) freedom.

I’ve lived overseas, and traveled to dozens of countries.

I’m fortunate to be an American.

The United States provided a country and a system that allowed me and you the opportunity to do something with ourselves and make our way in the world reasonably unfettered and certainly without the worry that a lot of people around the world have about much more basic needs.

But, just because fate had it written that I’d be born in the U.S. doesn’t make me exceptional.

My country might be, but that doesn’t mean I am.

Certainly, I am not exceptional by a circumstance of location and time when I arrived upon this planet.

We work hard for what we have, but so do many other people all around the world, and what they get in return is often much, much less – they live to see another day.

While I may have been born in an extraordinary country, I am not extraordinary by birthright, not any more extraordinary than anyone else who is born, no matter where they’re born.

We’re all people, after all.

What you do is what makes you exceptional, or not exceptional. A passport and mark of citizenship just because that’s where the globe stopped spinning when fate put you on this earth does not.

I’m proud to live in an amazing country.

But, I’m also lucky to have been born here. Compared to many in the world, I was given quite the head start.

I’ve made something out of the leg up I’ve received, but I didn’t have that many obstacles (particularly ones that weren’t self-made) to overcome. When I think about my situation compared to, say, a mobile phone entrepreneur in eastern Africa, I sit in awe of what those people achieve, particularly given what they have to start with.

What have you done with your head start? What are you going to do to be exceptional? Don’t sit on your laurels of birth. An appellation does not make someone better than anyone else. It’s just a name, a happenstance of location.

Be exceptional. Start today.

About Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, is the Chief Technology officer of myFinancialAnswers, an online comprehensive financial planning service.

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