Posted 5.3.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Wouldn't it be interesting to read readers' reflections on what Canada means to them, as we look back over our nation's first 150 years? It's a safe bet we'd prefer to remain Canadian and not "American", despite our admiration for America's achievements. Canadians admire Americans' openness, friendliness, and optimism.

Yet most of us don't seem interested in modelling our nation upon the US. We share more the Nordic sense of communal responsibility and mutual support -- our harsh winters! We value education more, say, than military service, and even our military ambitions are modest; having American protectors next door gives us another half-budget to support our more progressive social services.

Since we so often define ourselves in relation to Americans, we have to acknowledge that the US is massive -- in population, economic and cultural activities, etc, all of which throws up an incredibly complex society. There are more Nobel Prize winners -- this is hearsay -- in America than in the rest of the world combined. Its patents, its universities, arts, sports, its laboratories -- the richness of American culture and complexity is mind-boggling. For every Trump today there's tomorrow's Einstein.

Our history differs, our evolution more slow-paced. It could be that we not only have three distinct founding peoples, but those populations are still alive and involved in politics, the arts, the economy -- very different from America's melting-pot model. In the US there's a blending, not a preservation, of differences; its entropy at work, reducing that great varied population to massive layers of sameness.

The size and continued vitality of Canada's founding three populations means we have become a very different society than one founded on population entropy/uniformity. Just having so much French language within our culture sets us apart and contributes to Canadians' opportunity for individualistic self-definition.

Strange that the individualist nation par excellence, America, is more uniform than our more-cautiously chaperoned society. As our First Nations' population claims its just place, our country will become even more distinct from our neighbours in North America.

While we share large immigrant populations, our mosaic model keeps their contributions alive and vivid, not the American melting-pot's integration and uniformity (which we tried [poorly] in Residential Schools). We've grown to value the differences, as well as similarities, among us all.

The immigration question has grown as important and consequential as climate change already is -- deserving much more consideration than a few lines in this newspaper or in conversation at the dinner table.

We could include in our reflections on Canada's 150th a list if things yet to be improved, starting with our national smugness, contrasted with the Yanks' admirable openness. Even our "social virtues" (health care, education, child and seniors care, etc) leave much to improve. Our distinctness and differences, our social committments, our cooperativeness all make us open to many avenues of development and social experimentation.

So, how about your thoughts? Share them with our readers on these well-read pages.


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/5.17