Of course the US is not a deity. It cannot be one. Those who imagined it as a wealthy paradise on earth are going to be disappointed and sad. We need not look very far — its performance for the earlier half of the year is already very telling: it has the world’s highest number of Covid-19 confirmed cases and deaths, its economy is fast contracting, and its unemployment rate is soaring. Furthermore, a black man recently died in the hands of the police, sparking nationwide protests and even a few consecutive days of arson, looting, and violence that saw the eventual mobilisation of the US National Guard.
It has surpassed the limits of tradition, custom, and mediocrity, and reached a standard that ordinary people and countries can only dream of attaining. So in this sense, the US indeed has the aura of a deity.
The underlying reasons for the huge losses that the US has incurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are complex and diverse. The lessons learnt are also very profound. While the coronavirus has peaked, it has not been eradicated — we must not let our guard down. The economic downturn and high unemployment rate in the US, according to US President Donald Trump, is mainly caused by human factors rather than objective economic and financial problems. Thus, the economy should be able to quickly recover and bounce back. Its “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations, on the other hand, is a complex matter of history and reality entwined — a different issue altogether.
Yet, the reason why the US can be so different and unique is certainly because it has achieved things of the “deity level”. It has surpassed the limits of tradition, custom, and mediocrity, and reached a standard that ordinary people and countries can only dream of attaining. So in this sense, the US indeed has the aura of a deity.
He (George Washington) refused to be a lifetime king of the US and resolutely resigned after two terms in office.
The US’s deity-worthy deeds
For over 200 years, people never seem to grow tired of listening to the story of George Washington, America’s first president. This is because while there were many influential and heroic figures over the years of political struggle and turmoil — some even talked big about wanting to “surpass Washington” — most could only look at Washington and let out a huge sigh in the end. They were far behind him and could only look up to him.
So what sort of deity-like things did Washington do? He refused to be a lifetime king of the US and resolutely resigned after two terms in office. In the face of a world where “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac”, most laypeople would want to have as much power as possible. Only a deity like Washington could say no to temptation and retreat from his seat of power when he was in his prime. Some say that Washington was being a “hypocrite” for doing so — just like a rooster that can only be envious of an eagle because it cannot fly as high as the eagle.
...if speech should be supervised, it should be the people supervising the speech of the government, rather than the other way around.
America’s fourth president James Madison is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution”. His deity-like thoughts formed the foundation of a series of legal rules for the US. He believed that the lack of open debate and supervised public opinion leads to tyranny and ineffectiveness, and that if speech should be supervised, it should be the people supervising the speech of the government, rather than the other way around. Up until the 21st century that we live in today, these propositions still inspire deep thoughts each time they are heard. They are indeed commonsensical concepts and advice from a deity.
You cannot proclaim that “knowledge is power” one day and condemn and persecute intellectuals the next day. This folly would only prove that you are not powerful.
Of course, the US’s deity-like achievements include its mesmerising world of invention, innovation, and breakthroughs in technology. For example, the basis of digital technology is the binary numeral system — put simply, it is the continual transformation of “0” and “1”, quite similar to the yin-yang interchange in traditional Chinese culture. However, if the binary system were to be used as a means for data transmission and storage, we would have to go beyond the simple concept of yin and yang. Some sort of deity power would be needed in such an optimised combination of mathematics, electronics, and engineering.
It is clear that the US’s deity-like achievements are not scams like the “Hongcheng Magic Liquid” incident (Wang Hongcheng, a layperson from Harbin had claimed that he could turn regular water into fuel by adding a few drops of his liquid in it) or the so-called “elixir of life”. They are the results of solid research, exploration, and innovation accumulated over many generations under the support of a reliable institution. Deities do not suddenly appear out of nowhere or from playing the fool — they are the products of sustainable development and improvement. You cannot proclaim that “knowledge is power” one day and condemn and persecute intellectuals the next day. This folly would only prove that you are not powerful. It is a very simple logic.
Or, should we say that we as Chinese are the ones who cannot seem to unlock the doors to becoming deities ourselves?
NASA and SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer founded by mega technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, have recently brought humans to space in the latter’s first-ever commercial space capsule, the SpaceX Dragon. However, it was the even more magical and spectacular launch vehicle Falcon 9 that stole the show. Not only can it lift huge payloads, it is safe, reliable, and also reusable, covering six core technological innovations, greatly lowering the cost of rocket launches, and launching a new era in human space exploration.
For this reason, some Chinese media lamented that China only had a Zheng He who explored the Western Ocean on the command of the emperor but not an Elon Musk who self-financed his space exploration mission. The two are worlds apart — is this then the difference between a layperson and a deity? Or, should we say that we as Chinese are the ones who cannot seem to unlock the doors to becoming deities ourselves?