Exceptionalism seems to me a distinctly Western way of thinking about things.
Yes, I know how that sounds.
I don’t like the whole Ubuntu notion either, which seems like the most obvious counterpoint to a more Western-suitable capitalism meme, but it need not be the only counter to the more Western way of seeing things. I think where we differ is that we can have our Alaba market electronics entrepreneurs, our Tejuosho Market-women, indeed our greedy and corrupt leaders– the very essence of Nigerian free-market dog-eat-dog capitalism in all its gore and glory– without a belief that we are somehow ordained. No heavenly being has graced our shoulders with a sword, bestowing upon us the right to screw someone else over. We just do. We accept our fate in a game that we did not create, having the vague notion that, were we the ones in the air-conditioned car that just drove by at full speed and splashed muddy water all over our Sunday’s best, we might do the very same thing. Just because we can.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately (Why? I have no idea), and may have more thoughts as the week progresses, but this amazing talk by Elisabeth Gilbert– writer of the NYT bestseller Eat, Pray, Love– makes a tangential point, I think.