I came across an article* by Jay Ambrose in today’s Columbian newspaper titled “Super Bowl exemplifies some vital American virtues”. I happened to be with a Filipino friend and wondered out loud which virtues Ambrose would list that are specifically American.

The article describes the game thusly:

In fact, I think the whole affair – patriotic prelude, the football game itself, crowd fervor, technological wizardry, an advertising onslaught, the halftime extravaganza and more – speaks to a remarkable American energy, even a certain joyfulness…

And the frivolity did have touches of unifying seriousness, the most moving of which was the wondrous singing of “America the Beautiful” by a chorus of 26 children from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn…

Football… (is) a game of psychological ups and downs that make a difference, of skill and character and, believe it or not, of intellect and must consider strategies, counter-strategies and ingenious tactics…

He goes on to mention the power outage, Beyonce’s performance, the fact that the opposing coaches were brothers. But, as I read each “American virtue,” I said to my Filipino friend, “surely they don’t possess that particular virtue in the Philippines, do they?”  He shocked me by revealing that all these virtues exist in the Philippines as well.  So I wondered if the Filipinos learned patriotism, musical talent, technology and togetherness from the Americans. I became confused trying to fathom how new immigrants, from all corners of the world, magically acquire these virtues upon arrival in America. I marvel at the thought that, had those immigrants ended up in other lands instead, they would have had to make due with whatever second-rate virtues they have in those lands.

I’d always wondered why it is that national governments are so eager to conquer new lands (and hold on to land they’ve already got). Now I know: It’s to spread their virtues. As land falls under their sway, their special virtues are bestowed upon that land. These virtues are then, by some unknown mechanism, transferred to those who live on that land. Amazing!

I almost asked my Filipino friend why his people were so determined to free themselves from American rule. Think of all the virtue they gave up on by pursuing independence. They could have become like Puerto Rico; all its citizens are Americans. As such, they share our virtues.

I feel so fortunate to have been born in the United States of America. Had I been born just a couple hundred miles south, in Mexico, I would have had to cross the Rio Grande to get my virtues.

On second thought, maybe I would have been better off in Mexico. Mexico has the virtue of maintaining its own specific culture while the U.S. has been busy taking a little from here and a little from there, haphazardly mixing them together and hoping for the best. I remember, as a child, concocting my own cereal like that. It was so bad even the dog wouldn’t eat it.

*Currently the article seems to appear only in the printed version.