This is the 72nd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.
In just 200 years, your country, through freedom and hard work, has changed the world.
In agriculture, industry, education, medicine, law, transportation, and on and on.
No country can match America’s record in religious freedom, civil freedom, human rights, the importance and dignity of the individual.
We do have our differences.
But when we join together in times of crisis, our strength is awesome.
Among all the world’s nations, America still stands out front.
You’re an American.
You’re the finest ever – and don’t you ever, ever forget it.
I agree with everything that is written above; I believed it 35 years ago when the ad above was first published, and I still believe it today.
My perspective has changed a bit over that time however.
Thirty-five years ago I just took such statements for granted, of course America is the greatest country in the world; who didn’t know that.
Today, however, I’m older, and hopefully a little wiser, or at least more aware of the world outside the U.S., I realize that there’s no natural law or guarantee that says America is the finest country in the world.
Being a great country doesn’t just happen; it requires careful planning, sacrifice, regulations, cooperation, and respect for others.
At the same time, being a great country doesn’t mean we always do the right thing.
- I think we tend to get too involved in other countries’ issues, and it would be better if we stayed out.
- I think the capitalist approach to running our economy is the right one, but sometimes people, and companies, carry it too far. The result are ethical breaches that end up hurting others.
- I also sometimes think there are some people who unfortunately would prefer if there was less freedom, less diversity.
I realize I am quite biased in my opinion that the U.S. is the finest country in the world, so I thought I would try to look at some “unbiased” evidence regarding such a belief.
There was a ranking earlier this year of countries on a variety of factors, and in that ranking, the U.S. was ranked fourth in the world, behind Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In another ranking that looks at social progress, the U.S. ranked 16h.
I also wonder if all the work required to be considered the finest country in the world is worth it, based on happiness rankings around the world. In the most recent World Happiness Report, the U.S. was only ranked 15th in the world.
These rankings don’t change my opinion that the U.S. is the best country in the world, but it does make me even more aware that I can’t take such a belief for granted. It will continue to take hard work, a commitment to freedom, respect for each other, and a commitment to the type of country our founders envisioned.
Go Team U.S.A.!