I tell my children all the time that it is good to be different, to be unique as individuals.
Yet I never really thought of it in terms of our Canadian status until a recent family vacation south of the border, to the land of expensive amusement parks, where our subtle differences proved to be a good thing.
As Remembrance Day is upon us, I am grateful to the veterans who fought so valiantly to build a Canada where that difference is celebrated.
Watching election coverage mixed with the tragic circumstances during the aftermath of super storm Sandy was an education in American media and the harsh reality that through their lens, the world revolves around lower North America. I nearly fell off my hotel bed when the weatherman on a MSNBC syndicate said, “Sandy will fly out of the northern United States tomorrow and head to eastern Canada, thank goodness.”
Try explaining to your kids why that guy on TV just wished their aunties in Nova Scotia would suffer the same fate as the Jersey Shore did. Nice. Well, at least Canada was on the news radar. There was no mention of Sandy’s wallop to Jamaica, Haiti or Cuba, for instance. Nope. Nobody else was affected. Besides, the big news of the day was that actor Kelsey Grammar brought his infant to the Playboy mansion for a Halloween party because his new wife couldn’t find someone to feed the little one. I wish I were kidding.
Thankfully, the election commercials were better than anything I have seen on TV for a long time. The smear tactics were unabashedly shameful. Smoke and mirrors were everywhere. Racism and sexism were fair play. I used to get mad that Canadians cared more for American politics, but I get it now. The spectacle is such that you can’t turn away.
It was also terrifying. By the time this column is published, the fate of America’s future will have been decided and we can’t do a thing about it.
Canada’s reputation for peacekeeping, multiculturalism and social programs may be the fodder of late night punch lines and misconstrued notions of socialism on the American talk-show circuit, but it only takes one American newsreel to remind you the richest country may welcome the disenfranchised, but it has no problem turning a blind eye on them too. I saw plenty of that.
I realize this sounds anti-American, but that is not my intent. I have family and friends who banish any stereotype I would hold in contempt.
I know that Canada is not a perfect country. We deal with drugs, poverty and corruption, too. Our political process and politicians are flawed. But there is so much here that is good, that works and that respects Canadians, however they came to be Canadians. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are, every day, just to be here.
Yet there is no doubt we would be different – who we are, as a nation – without the sacrifice and integrity of our soldiers, in times of peace and in the horrors of battle. Our national character was born of an identity hard fought for and never to be taken for granted. On Nov. 11, I will be grateful for the passport that lets me see the world through a Canadian lens and always brings me home. Different is good. Lest we forget.
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.