Being special:The diversity and positive energy are what makes me want to be an American. But here’s the thing: What makes Nordic people uncomfortable is when “uniqueness” or “being special” includes the suggestion that certain people are more valuable than others. Americans and Nordics may start form a similar point, and acknowledge each individual’s inherent value. But Americans tend to emphasize an individual’s capacity for extraordinary achievement, and then focus on celebrating those who fulfil this promise. This makes Americans comfortable with hierarchies based on income, title, or other indicators of status, because these hierarchies are perceived as being based on merit. By contrast Nordics tend to continue emphasizing the equal value of each individual regardless of hi or her achievement, and thus Nordic people dislike such hierarchies and celebrations of success.What’s behind this difference in attitudes? Today Americans still feel that by and large, every individual is responsible for sconstructing his or her own fate—the classic pursuit of happiness—and there is still much debate in the US about the extent to which, if at all, an individual’s success or failure is also shaped by accients of birth. Nordic people have long ago moved beyond this debate. To most Nordics it’s completely obvious that an accident of birth, like being born into poverty or a neighbourhood without a good school, can severely disadvantage an individual and destroy any chances of success, no matter what he or she does. And vice versa: if you are born into wealth or a neighbourhood with a much better school, obviously you are going to have a better chance at doing well. If you agree with this view, then every individual’s success is also partly thanks to factors not of his or her own creation. As such, when one does succeed, one can certainly take pride in that, but there is less cause to feel overimpressed with one’s own achievement, or be awed by the success of others. Other people helped make it possible, and more often than not, luck also played a part.