Panama City shows America still loaded for bear with social capital

Was anyone not captivated by the human chain spontaneously formed by 80 beachgoers in Panama City to rescue a large group of people drowning in a riptide?

It was as visually fascinating as it was morally edifying, given that 80 strangers – on one of the most beautiful (and little known) beaches in the world – came together with no prompting, no central authority, no orders from anyone – with a singular mission to rescue some 14 fellow human beings from a grim and certain vortex of death.  Their quick work ensured that every last person instead got out alive.

While there are no full news accounts of who the 80 people were, it's known that the beachgoers did not know each other, and it's likely that many of them were there on vacation from other parts of the country.

So what it's really a statement on is the high social capital that still exists in the United States.  You don't see it in Europe, where passive denizens would calmly wait for the state to intervene.  You don't see it in Asia, where (other than a very few places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan), the locals won't so much as wait in line, fearful they will be cheated if they dare wait their turn instead of push ahead in a mob.  You don't see it in tribal hellholes such as Afghanistan, where women wear burkas to ensure that they have burial shrouds should they die on the road as people walk over them.  You don't see it in China, where people hit by cars are ignored as people drive and walk by.  You certainly don't see it in third-world hellholes in parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where you must wear a cheap watch and put your purse in the trunk of your taxi or else expect a carjacker to rob you.

In Panama City, all we saw was the determination of first a strong swimmer, then a small group of people, and then a massive crowd of 80, swimmers and non-swimmers, link hands, ankles, wrists, and anything else that would hook to bring back 14 drowning people to shore.  They were unprompted, they were much faster than the authorities, and they cooperated so well their chain was effective.  Their simple and critical mission succeeded.

Now there needs to be official recognition for these people – celebration, really – as well as Hollywood movies, artwork, first-person accounts, and anything that will celebrate and continue the spirit that seems to be found so very obviously in the U.S., with its high social capital.

Social capital is based on trust.  Trust doesn't come without stable legal frameworks, one-size-fits-all rule of law, the foremost human right of personal security, and common cultural values.  The United States is loaded with those because common values – and the assimilation to them – remain at the forefront, at least in the places the left disdainfully calls the Flyover.

Those values are worth defending if for nothing else than they show the rest of the world what we mean by America as a beacon, a shining city on a hill.  The celebration of this great event is really a reflection on our country.  Such events are what President Trump means when he says "Make America Great Again."  How fitting that this one came just off the Fourth of July.

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