Friday, July 06, 2007

D'Souza: What's So Great About America

From, [an excerpt]:

Had I stayed in India, I would probably live my entire existence within a five-mile radius of where I was born. I would undoubtedly have married a woman of my identical caste and religious and socioeconomic background. I would have faced relentless pressure to become an engineer, like my father, or a doctor, like my grandfather. My socialization would have been entirely within my own ethnic community. I would have had a whole set of opinions that could be predicted in advance.

Because I came to America, though, I have seen my life break free of these traditional confines. In college I became interested in literature and politics, and resolved to make a career as a writer, which is something you can do in America, and cannot easily do in India. I married a woman of English, Scottish, French, and German ancestry.

Eventually I found myself working in the White House, even though I was not an American citizen. I cannot imagine another country allowing a non-citizen to work in the inner citadel of its government.

In most of the world, even today, your identity and your fate are largely handed to you. In America, by contrast, you get to write the script of your own life. What to be, where to live, who to love, who to marry, what to believe, what religion to practice—these are all decisions that, in America, we make for ourselves. Here we are the architects of our own fate.

The “self-directed life” is the incredibly powerful idea that is behind the worldwide appeal of the United States. Young people throughout the world find irresistible the prospect of being in the driver’s seat of their own destiny. So, too, the immigrant discovers that America permits him to break free of the constraints that have held him captive, so that the future becomes a landscape of his own choosing.

No comments: