Musings on Being Canadian
I don't know why I woke up today thinking about patriotism. In the middle of November we are about as far as we can get from celebrating Canada day. Not that I celebrate it. It began with the truly boring lyrics of our national anthem running through my mind. I've worked in schools where we sang the anthem every day and others where it was sung only at assemblies. Currently, the school where I teach aims to sing it every Monday morning. Students don't want to sing it; I must regularly remind some to stand respectfully and not lean on their desks, and most eleven year old bottoms are in the chairs again by the time the last vibrations of music are still fading away. I last sang O' Canada on Wednesday, at the Remembrance day ceremony. It was followed by God Save The Queen, which has such little relevance these days. Personally I believe in neither God or the Queen, although the Queen seems like a nice person and God does not.
I decided to troll through Flickr commons and look for images of Canada. These are typical tourist photos, so it is possible that they show me Canada through the eyes of visitors. Most are nature photos. We do have cities in Canada, although we have a lot of nature too. It is beautiful, yes, and familiar so it does reach my stony little heart but there are beautiful places all over the world so I don't think that the beauty of Canada's nature is any reason to feel patriotic.
We're known for being friendly, apologetic and non-violent. In a country so physically vast there are such regional differences amongst people I just don't understand how these stereotypes can fit all people. When I visit the United States, I find people extremely friendly and in a great big rush to tell me how much they love Canadians ad Canada. In Canada we like to make fun of Americans for knowing so little about us. We also look scornfully on the American predilection for self promotion. If we aren't going to promote ourselves, then how can we expect our neighbours to really know anything about us.
I am grateful to live in a country where I am free. I am proud of our liberal attitudes where even our so called Conservatives are more liberal than the American Democrats. Yes, I would fight for those things. I would fight to remain more liberal than our friendly American neighbours. But I use the term fight broadly. Canada has a history with more meetings and paper work than battles. It isn't exciting to read about, but it is consistent with my values. I don't know that I would choose battle to defend what I believe in. It would sure depend on how much I had to loose.
Is that patriotism? It's about all you're going to get from me. No flag waving. No ideals about Canadian values rescuing the world. I'm more interested in my relationship with all people from all over the world, with our vast differences and our even more vast similarities. Our human frailties and our human strengths. I want a world anthem to sing. One about peace and love and helping each other. It may not be realistic but it could be filled with hope. I guess that's why my son calls me a hippie.
(above photos from flickr)