March 3, 2010

true patriot love

Posted in shit happening tagged , , , at 4:28 am by ben

The patriotism is running high here in the great not-so-white north.   From sea to shining sea we are celebrating.  We love our country and without being gauche or in your face we’ve become a nation of red and white wearing, flag wavers.  I’m really digging it.

Canada tends to be a bit like the wallflower at a high school dance.  She is content to watch others in the spotlight, she applauds the prom queen without malice or petty jealousy and she’s pretty happy to be at the party even if her dance card isn’t full.  (“Dance card” is me showing my age… not that I am quite old enough to have ever had one.) When she does dance, she doesn’t need a partner (or she can choose one of the same sex) and she bops to her own beat even if it’s not quite as popular as what the other kids are doing.  These Olympics have made her the belle of the ball, it’s given her a little taste of the limelight and I think she likes it.

The furor is over the 2010 Winter Olympics.  We had high hopes of finally winning a gold medal on home soil and instead we broke the record for the most gold medals ever won in a winter Olympics.  This is huge for Canada, though in all sincerity we’re the kind of people who take pride in effort as well as achievements.  Our athletes and all of the people involved with the games did us proud.  It’s not just about winning, we’re not the type to brag (most of us anyway) but finally we are more than just a cold weather joke.  We’ve shown the world that we have what it takes to win and throw a wicked shindig.

It’s been said that we have no culture, that because we are a melting pot we don’t really know who we are.  I disagree.  We know exactly who we are, we are everyone from everywhere.  This is why we are tolerant.  This is why we don’t discriminate.  We aren’t a melting pot, we are multicultural and there is a difference.  Melting pot infers that we all must blend into one.  The only people who have been here forever are the First Nations, the rest of us came from somewhere else.  It would be hypocritical to expect immigrants to become us when we’re not exactly living in teepees and eating pemmican ourselves.  What makes us special is that in this country blending is not necessary, we don’t just appreciate individuality we embrace it.  From one end of this land to the other are entire communities and communities within communities celebrating their culture.  Vancouver has the largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco, the east coast is a bizarre and wonderful Celtic mix and there are little Italy’s, India’s, Poland’s, Ukraine’s etc. all over the place and my own town was founded by Swiss guides.  Our culture, our heritage is that of the immigrant.  We all strive to give our children a better life than we had, we share with our neighbors and help them out whenever they need a hand whether it’s building a barn or rebuilding Haiti.  We preach and practice compassion and a “live and let live” philosophy.  I am proud to live in a country where my freedom really means something, where my voice is heard and no religion or religious ideology (or idiocy) is forced down my throat.  I can choose my faith as I can choose to have an abortion, marry another woman and smoke weed… all at the same time if I want!

What ties us all together?  It’s a shared experience in a land where we can live free of persecution, full of hope and opportunity.

We believe that health care is a right not a privilege.  Our system (like our country and indeed those of us in it) is not without flaws but we’ll keep working on it until we get it right.  We are of hardy stock up here, perseverance is something we’ve gotten pretty good at.

Something is different in this country today, we might be walking a little taller, we might even be strutting a little, and dammit, we should be!  We rocked it, on and off the podium.  I think Canadians have always been proud of who and what we are, this whole Olympic thing just gives us a reason to shout it out.