Point of View

What makes America exceptional: It's a nation of laws

September 16, 2013 

On Sept. 17, 1787 – 226 years ago tomorrow – the Founding Fathers of our beloved republic signed the sacred document we know and cherish as the U.S. Constitution, giving birth to our great nation.

No, America is not great because of its prosperity. It is not great because of the proverbial American Dream of a brick home with a two-car garage. It is not great because it gives us security, opportunity and order. It is not great because of its advanced technology and its number of Nobel Laureates in science, medicine, literature and humanities.

America is great because it is a nation of laws and because of its absolute commitment to uphold and maintain the supremacy of the rule of law. Today, Constitution Day, it is fitting to take a psychological scalpel and dissect what goes into the grandeur of America’s reverential devotion to upholding the rule of law.

These two cases, one national and one local, dramatically and eloquently tell us the story of America.

Psychiatrist Nidal Hasan went on a rampage Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding 32 of his fellow soldiers at his Texas military base. Speaking on his own behalf in court, he said, “The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.” Hasan is paralyzed now below the chest and requires special medical attention at Brooke Army Medical Center. He is incontinent and in need of round-the-clock nursing care and rehabilitation. Also, there is a special security team assigned to protect his life day and night. He was tried in a specially fortified court room. Sources familiar with his care report that Hasan’s security detail rivals that of the president. The cost is in the millions.

Yes, the majesty of the supremacy of the rule of law in our beloved land of America is dramatically demonstrated by how we are treating an admitted killer. The American Dream is not vacation homes, technology and prosperity. It is laws, our sacred Constitution and the sacrifice of the Founding Fathers that are the muscles, bones and spirit of the American Dream. The supremacy of the rule of law and not the whims of a dictator, a king, a shah or an ayatollah is the foundation of the majesty of American democracy.

On the local scene, a couple of years ago, with astonishment and awe, I sat and watched the court proceedings of former Gov. Michael Easley on television. Astonishing, because a former chief executive officer of a sovereign state was being sentenced. Awe, because of the unshakable and uncompromising supremacy of the rule of law in America.

America, from time to time, may go down financially and our state might have a $3 billion budget deficit, but nowhere on earth are the sanctity and supremacy of the rule of law so cherished and enshrined in the nation’s psyche as they are in America.

God has blessed our beloved nation, the United States of America, and we are blessed to be Americans.

Philanthropist Assad Meymandi, M.D., Ph.D., of Raleigh is a native of Iran. He is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

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