It’s December 1985 in Sydney, Australia. Two parents are at wits’ end. Something is not right with their 16-month-old child. For months, they have visited doctor after doctor. No one can tell them what is wrong. On the night before Christmas Eve, with their child more unsettled than unusual, they head for the emergency room at Children’s Hospital.

The ward is nearly deserted, but there is one overnight doctor – a young man with a smiling face and an accent. As he looks the child over, the smile evaporates: “I think your son has neuroblastoma. Get him in for tests first thing in the morning.” Next day, the parents’ worst fears are confirmed. It is Stage IV neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer.

The parents were mine. The child was me. The doctor, it turned out, was an American.

The cause of neuroblastoma remains unknown. Only 1 in 100,000 children get it. Notoriously difficult to diagnose, the tumor has usually spread by the time it is. At Stage IV, an infant has just a 5 percent chance of life. For three years, I underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an operation.

In 5,000 years of recorded human history, there has been no nation even resembling the United States. The American model has offered, and continues to offer, a greater chance for dignity, hope and happiness for more people than any other system.

Through the healing hands of God, the master physician, I defied the odds and lived. The instincts of the American doctor, fresh out of college, only in Australia for an internship, just in time, were crucial. So I haven’t only studied American exceptionalism. I’ve lived it. In fact, I’m alive because of it.

 

American exceptionalism is often derided as a phrase of partisan polemics, or worse still, a mere hypothesis, or even a myth. But it is an incontrovertible reality, however unwelcome or unpalatable this might be to those whose ears are attuned to a different siren.

In 5,000 years of recorded human history, there has been no nation even resembling the United States. The American model has offered, and continues to offer, a greater chance for dignity, hope and happiness for more people than any other system.

As Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, put it: “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.” Lady Thatcher was right. The philosophy is one of individual liberty, free-market opportunity and belief that it's all a gift from God. America is the best idea the world has ever had, the greatest value system ever devised.

What are these values that make America exceptional?  Individualism, not collectivism. Patriotism, not relativism. Optimism, not pessimism. Limited government, not the nanny state.

God, not Caesar. Faith, not secularism. E pluribus Unum, not multiculturalism. Life, not death. Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Goodness, not moral equivalence.

America is about being bold, not bland. Brave, not meek. Striving for greatness, not mediocrity.

Tellingly, all of these values are aligned with what today is called a conservative outlook. On every single count, traditional America both viscerally and ideologically sides with conservatism.

America thus represents the greatest impediment to leftist aims, and it becomes the prime target of the progressive movement in all its manifestations. It is easy to love America simply for the enemies she makes.

American success – by design, not accident – is the most significant refutation of leftist ideals. That’s because America has fostered a society that allows its citizens the widest latitude for creativity and innovation. It rewards success without government approvals and bureaucratic interference. It embraces religious faith, aspiration and risk.

As a result, the people of America have been the most enterprising, market-oriented, individualistic and averse to taxation and regulation that have ever walked the earth.

America has also shown uncommon valor against the sword of tyranny. She has frosted the neighborhoods of tyranny and oppression, by freezing the sweat and chilling the bones of men harboring such aspirations. From the beaches of Normandy to the sands of Iraq, America has spread more freedom and fought more evil than any other country, expending enormous treasure.

Put simply, the world is a better place for America being in it. This is not to say America is perfect. She’s not. But she is the best thing we have.

People still cross oceans to get to this country. They are as willing as ever to empty their life savings to get to America, legally or illegally. They are as prepared as ever to sell the shirt on their back just to feel the American winds of freedom and opportunity. Nowhere else can so many come with nothing and achieve anything.

So I’m convinced that an American renaissance is not as distant, or as impossible, as many speculate. But neither will it roll in on the wheels of inevitability. We must revitalize an informed patriotism across the land.

We must recover a common recognition that the principles of freedom and responsibility found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are in every American's self-interest, irrespective of identity politics. This must become again, as it once was, the lens in which all Americans view cultural choices, political candidates and public policy.

Saving America requires bringing intellectual ammunition to the battle of ideas. Too many people have forgotten or never learned what makes America exceptional – and you cannot advocate what you cannot articulate.

Since almost losing my life before it began, I have firmly believed God saved my life for a particular purpose.

Is it a coincidence that I have been drawn to the United States for as long as I can remember? Is it chance that it was an American doctor who diagnosed what others had been unable to do? Is it accidental that the dreams in my heart all involve America? As a man of faith, I don’t believe so.

Today, at age 30, I proudly call myself an Australian by birth, a Texan by honorary appointment (thank you, Rick Perry) and an American by choice. I love America because it is confident, competitive, courageous, faithful, idealistic, innovative, inspirational, charitable and optimistic. It is everything as a nation that I wish to be as a person. That’s why I am devoted to helping achieve an American renaissance.

After freedom, inspiration is America’s greatest export. To me, as it was to Churchill, America is the hope that banishes all hopelessness. As Americans, you should never be intimidated into mediocrity or cramped into submission. You’ve been given so much more. For the sake of the world, you must remain the dream-makers and the dream-keepers.

Australian Nick Adams is an author and commentator. His latest book is “Retaking America: Crushing Political Correctness,” with a foreword by Sean Hannity was published in February 2016. A regular on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, C-SPAN and nationally-syndicated radio, Adams has received several state awards. He was appointed an Honorary Texan by Governor Rick Perry in 2013. He is also the author of book: The American Boomerang (2014). He can be reached on Twitter @NickAdamsinUSA. His website is www.nickadamsinamerica.com.