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Observation of the day

Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ 6:43 AM EDT
May 19 2011

The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement. America's founding document, its Declaration of Independence, allows that a state exists only to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That's it. There's a curious lack of ambition in those words. The United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything, or as the necessary outcome of history, but for the freedom to collect figurines, to join a clogging troupe, to take a road trip. Yet these words, which carry no ideology whatsoever, are the ones that keep winning. This is the lesson of the past ten years, and one Osama bin Laden, a man animated by a grandiose vision of restoring a seventh century Muslim empire, never grasped. The most successful organizing principle the world has ever known is a simple guarantee that we can buy and do things that have no point greater than the satisfaction of our own happiness.

There's been much discussion, since the evening his death was announced, of the appropriate way to celebrate the end of Osama bin Laden. You might consider embracing what defeated him. Do something private and ridiculous, something that answers to no creed.

Pursue happiness.

-Brendan Greeley, excerpted from "Why bin Laden Lost," Businessweek, May 4, 2011.

(h/t to "The Sanity Inspector" on the Usenet alt.quotations newsgroup)

Categories: Founding Fathers, History


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