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If anybody knows about the origins of this phrase please share.  I'm sure there's more to it than lyrics of a song.  I have a feeling it's been around for a while.

Google ngram viewer[1] gives the first recorded instance in print of “own worst enemy” in American English as ~1812. British English records it as being relatively common prior to 1800. The significant occurrence between Britain and America in 1812, was [wiki]The War of 1812[/wiki] I would therefore speculate that it was this conflict that brought the phrase to the USA.

I know it is a very true statement.

I hope to show you that it is far from true.

As an individual my hardest challenges have been self inflicted.  All individuals face the same challenges so when you group a bunch of imperfects together you have a group of imperfectionist doing lots of imperfect things.  Things that harm other imperfects.  It is not easy to constantly fight the temptations that often when indulged leave a wake of destruction in their paths.  This is the sole premise for the development of religion.  I conclude that the very answer to this difficulty is at times itself it's own worst enemy.  If humanity is ever going to evolve I believe this is an important truth that needs to be conquered.  We have struggled with the fight against ourselves since the beginning of time.

Your final sentence shows that you have drifted away from America being its own worst enemy, doesn't it? Yes, mankind has been in conflict from the time we came down from the trees. However, if you consult any history book, it will tell you that prior to 1776, there was no "America" (and even after that it was disputable until 1783 and The Treaty of Paris.) and thus your problems started when some humans made it across the Bering straits.

So what you are basically saying is that mankind is like mankind and always has been. So, "America is it's own worst enemy." hardly states the general problem nor can it, by application to the US alone, provide a solution.

I don't think this is newsworthy. 

To get to the moral of the story; to change the nation we must change ourselves, become less imperfect individuals.

Just out of interest, how many times do you think this has been said over the millennia? Can we not accept that, just as dogs are like dogs, cats are like cats, bees are like bees, mankind is like mankind, and this is what mankind does and always will do?

You are there in one of the richest countries on earth, food falls out of supermarkets, airplanes fly cheaply, gas is virtually free compared to Europe, in your own country you can choose to live in the tropics or a temperate climate, the countryside is wonderful, water is always drinkable, the vast, vast majority have shelter and some spare cash, and you are moaning about the fact that you are not living in an absolute paradise? Is that reasonable? Is it the view of anyone with some perspective?

Think of some poor bastard who has been born and brought up in Somalia. Do you think that in Somalia they complain? Well, they do, but, I suspect with some justification.
 1.  http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=own+worst+enemy&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=17&smoothing=3&share=
Changed Change Reason Date
junebug72 weak argument June 16, 2013, 07:51:03 AM