by Craig Funston
In the sixty (plus) years that I have lived in Canada, I have seen many changes in my home and native land. It would take two or three columns just to lay them out.
There have been many trivial, subtle changes, and there have been some momentous ones. Some have been for good, others have not been for good. Some are based on fact, others on fiction.
Note: Do you see the quintessential Canadian way I just expressed my opinion without threatening to kill anyone who disagrees with me?
In my early years, for example, there were only two Canadian teams in the NHL. Now there are five (or seven, if you consider the Oilers and Maple Leafs professional hockey teams).
In those early years, there were only a few universities and colleges, more well-defined moral parameters, no or limited Internet, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries was a pipe dream.
Today we have more post-secondary institutions (but are we smarter?), we have lower moral standards, and enough fast food joints to fill a fleet of Titanics.
I have spent enough years teaching about Canada (and its very riveting history) that I can say we have a very invigorating past. And I have spent some time both stateside and overseas to know that we have a fortunate present. Anyone who thinks otherwise is welcome to a one-way ticket to Bosnia.
One of the goals of every genuine Canadian should be to keep it that way. We can maintain a stable future so long as we pull together, and do not stoop to religious, cultural, and/or moral entitlement.
Any religious, cultural, or moral harassment should be dealt with accordingly, though that could be a real Pandora’s box. That is, in terms of religion, culture, and morality, who’s right? That could be a column for the ages
While we each may think we’re right, any disagreement to the point of abuse, ostracism, or even harm, is unacceptable. It’s just not how we do it in Canada—and we should keep it that way.
The question begs: “What is Canada?” or better, “What is Canadian?” If I think strictly in a symbolic sense, I would say the RCMP Musical Ride, maple syrup, ice hockey, and the word “eh”–a serious over-simplification, to be sure.
The Canada that I want to live in for the next thirty years is the one I want to leave for my kids and grand-kids. It’s the same one I used to know. It should be a Canada that respects and cherishes the lives and values of every individual. It should be a society that believes in the human rights of all individuals, not just the least, the left, or the loud.
It would involve a genuine Charter of Rights alright, but for all Canadians, not just the privileged few.
I envision a Canada that embraces the simple values of yesteryear as it faces tomorrow. Back in the so-called Dark Ages (ie., when I was a kid), we had genuine freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom to worship. We need to get a grip on those intrinsic values once again.
When I enter a marriage, a job, or any other relationship, my primary task is to make sure I am committed to it it, make improvements upon it, and use it as a positive force for the overall good. The same principle applies to my country.
The people who helped establish this country did that. They came in with the point of view that this was now their country and they were going to make the best of it. They would be our grandparents and their peers, something I also see in so many (but not all) immigrants even today.
They entered the land of opportunity and decided to do everything in their power to make it work.
There is a place for differences of religious, cultural, or moral perspective. There’s a side of me, I must admit, that wishes everyone was evangelical, English-speaking, and faith-based. I don’t think it’s a stretch to wish that, even write that. Can I express that without coming across as a bigot? I hope so; I know in the Canada I once knew I could.
However, in today’s politically-correct, multicultural environment, almost everything is tolerated—unless you hold to an “old-fashioned” evangelical, English-speaking, faith based perspective.
I like the parts of big cities that are given over to certain groups of people; I love the parades that celebrate the ethnicity of this group, or traditions of that group. I have stated this positively in many ways and in many columns for years.
Where I draw the line is with their food: Serve it all you like, but don’t make me eat it! I think that position would make make me fussy, not racist.
So happy birthday, Canada. You’re looking a little worn these days, but aren’t we all?