By Craig Funston
If last week’s column got you riled up, this week’s and next’s may get you even riler (not a real word, Maurice). Yes, I’m looking back (see heading for clarity), but it’s more of a wistful than wishful.
If I am consistent with what I write (and I trust that I am), and you’re consistent with what you comprehend (and I hope that you are), then somehow I need to make a connection between the Canada I once knew with the Canada I now see—you know, that cause and effect thing.
January is the month of reflection. Its namesake (Janus, from the Latin) has two faces, one looking back, the other looking ahead. While I am not into mythology, per se, it’s good illustration fodder. If I wanted to play with words, I would turn it into a verb, with the following statement: I’m going to janus in today’s column.
But seeing that I don’t like to play with words…
Some of today’s reflection is based on this time of year, but mostly, it is because my wife and I have welcomed yet another beautiful grandson, Kieran of Halifax. He joins sisters Kilmeny and Khaira, as well as cousins Ian, Jasmine, and Harry.
No worries: Today’s thoughts are not about that beautiful baby; rather, they are about the country that beautiful baby is going to grow up in.
It’s a Canada that is quite different than the one I grew up in.
The Canada I remember made more sense to me than this one does now. And I don’t think these are the ramblings of some old goat in his 60s. (Well, actually they are and actually I am, but I think my opinion is cogent and concise.) To be sure, my memory could play games with me, but I think I’m pretty clear-headed these days—though probably more clear-headed than pretty.
The Canada I remember was smarter, wiser, healthier, friendlier, simpler, and safer than the one I live in today. That’s a blanket statement, to be sure, and it would take a 10,000-word booklet to develop that position. For now, it will take a set of two breezy, 1,000+ word columns just to develop it.
Let me insert a caveat here: When it comes to remembering the “good old days,” even decades before I was born, I am not whitewashing our racist past. (Remember the Chinese, Ukrainians and the Japanese “problems”? The time frame was the building of the railroad in BC, WW I, and WW II.) Those were not the “good old days,” especially if you were Chinese, Ukrainian, or Japanese.
Even thinking about Nova Scotia: Can you spell N-e-g-r-o-e-s or A-c-a-d-i- a? You do recall that from history class, don’t you? And our track record with “First Nations” is not a very good one while we’re at it.
Nor am I overlooking the sloppy environmental track record in the past by big business. In matters of life and death, in the form of murder and mayhem, we have had issues over the decades. And while we’re disclaiming everything else, there were broken families back then, too. We can’t pretend everyone lived in a “little house on the prairie.”
Again, learning from the past would help us face the present—a line I recognize from somewhere…
However, let’s park here briefly and address those above issues:
With the “First Nations” challenges, we still haven’t got it right. But any rational suggestion from the common man (and that includes you and me) would seem as implicit racism, so we are forced to speak up, put up, then shut up.
The whole reserve debacle isn’t working out at any level or for the good of anyone, least of all the “First Nations” individuals themselves—unless you’re a chief. Getting rid of the reserves would be the best thing for all, but that would be so drastic. I have always seen natural assimilation, not forced isolation, as the best course.
The alleged arch-enemy of the environment (big business) has been replaced by another—more galling–arch-enemy, namely, the environmentalists themselves. If ordinary citizens could see what’s really going on, they would be shocked: tree-green is not lily-white.
It is such an overwhelming topic, I hardly know where to start. Here’s further fodder: How’s our sense of entitlement, from sixty years ago to today—better or worse? Our work ethic? Have you talked to any employers lately, and their despair in getting reliable employees (you know, the type that simply show up for work)?
Let’s keep going: Is our family life better today than it was sixty years ago? I’m speaking of the traditional family, providing a stable foundation (past) for generations to come (future). Can we discuss law and order while we’re at it? And in matters of health and welfare, are we in better shape or not?
Just enough questions to tease you. Details to follow next week.