Editorial: Being Canadian

By John Swartz

It’s Canada Day. How far we’ve come, how far we’ve regressed. The intent here is not to belittle or castigate you, or some of our brothers and sisters, but maybe it’s time to look into the mirror and assess what it means to be Canadian.

By almost every measure various organizations make, Canada is a great place to live. Sure there are issues right now, the light at the end of the tunnel is not like a headlight on a pickup truck, but this will pass, especially with some action on our part.

We are divided. More so than any other time in this writer’s memory. Some of us have been swayed by clever propaganda. Some of us have been emboldened by figures and events from the land of our downstairs neighbours. Many of us are apathetic when it comes to taking action to rectify the correctable ills of society, government and the environment and combating the cancer among us.

Why? It seems to me we are being conditioned in various ways to just accept decline. Well, some of us are. Some are bent on hastening it, I think it’s because they fear change and the unknown. Unknown not in the sense of we don’t know what is changing and what has to change, but how individuals react to change.

We’re getting a glimpse of how that reaction is taking shape. Violence, politically driven, is escalating at an alarming rate. I used to think Canadians were about ten years behind Americans on many political and social fronts. We’re closer to five years now, and with some topics only 12 months. Course correction is needed.

To some, their freedom is everything. They are concerned they will lose their voice to say and do hateful things. They are concerned they can’t just do whatever they want without concern to other people. They think the government is trying to take away their freedom. May I introduce you to Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and a few dozen other places?  Get some perspective; it’s on sale this week.

To the rest of us, what does Canada mean to you? Not much apparently, you don’t vote, maybe you don’t vote because you don’t even casually know the issues, let alone the nuance. You don’t stand up for what is right and necessary. You take your freedom for granted and don’t act to safeguard it. You drink watered down coffee.

What happened? Canadians were a key element to turning the tide of two World Wars. We gave the world (or the U.S.) baseball and basketball. Our scientists made the key discoveries that lead to the development of a vaccine for the worst pandemic of our lifetimes. We gave the world modern telecom switching without which modern communication would be impossible, We make the world laugh better than anyone else. We gave Disney the best animators they could hope to employ (making use of a revolutionary computer data storage technology developed and manufactured by someone who lives on Victoria Point – without which making movies and the internet would not be the piece of cake exercise it is today). We developed and made a key component of the Space Shuttle (little known fact a Canadian designed and was chief engineer of the lunar lander). We can lay claim to some truly fantastical and great things.

What happened to us?

We’ve become soft. We stopped having vision.

And you don’t vote. You don’t participate in your community. You don’t participate in making sure you get candidates for office who are smart, knowledgeable and decent people. Let me tell you from experience, you can join a committee and make change. You can write a letter to council and make change. You can have coffee with your councillor or mayor and sway change in your direction. I’ve done it. I’m not special, you can too.

Sure it’s more difficult to get the provincial or federal government to move, but the most important decisions affecting your life are made every other week at the City’s council table. Still, write and call often to your MP and MPP.

Arm yourself with real data and facts and people will listen instead of snicker. Think, don’t feel. Be as articulate as you are telling stories at the watering hole.

Take some responsibility and remember, we’re the most inventive, compassionate and toughest bastards on the planet and you live the greatest life in the greatest country. Make this coming year the time to put something back into it.

(Image Supplied) Main: A reimagined Canadian flag by artist Curtis Wilson of the Kwakwaka’wakw.


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