The chiding by Putin to Americans that theirs is not an exceptional country has precipitated anger and denial, just as his indirect reference to Britain’s present irrelevance in the world annoyed David Cameron and many Britons just before.
When a reaction to a criticism is defensive, often it indicates that there is truth in it somewhere, or that you fear it may be true. While it does not matter what someone else thinks or says about you, if their opinion touches you, then often it is worthwhile to consider it, to see if and how far it is true, and if you need to do something about it: for example, if they say you complain frequently, listen to yourself as you speak, and you might be surprised by what you hear.
The British Prime Minister responded to the Putin jibe with reminders of our past achievements, and it may be that America too sees herself still as the influential world power that once she was without recognising fully how far she and the world around her have changed, and that the image of the US abroad is not what it was 30 years ago – the impressions of the UK, China and Russia, are very different now to what they were before, also. The US has authority still, but it is less and it is of a different nature, and it will continue to wane and wax over the coming years as cycles come and go, and as leaders come and go: it is the way of the world, and applies everywhere.
From another perspective, however, America, indeed, is exceptional, just as you are. You have special gifts and a personality that is unique to you – there is no-one like you anywhere else; your soul history is incredible and your spiritual future is magnificent. Putin is right in saying that everyone is equal, but you are far more than that in your individuality, just as America is. We all are drops of light in a sea of love, but each drop is perfect, and is different, exceptional in every way.