Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada at 139: Growing Pains

When the United States turns 230 on the 4th of July I’m quite sure that many Americans will consider their country to be a “mature” nation. There will be some merit to this belief. After all, the United States had to overcome the turbulent birth out of a revolution, a bloody and divisive civil war, and many years of internal domestic strife over the nation’s unpopular foreign policy during its unsuccessful prosecution of the war in a small, seemingly insignificant southeast-Asian nation called Vietnam.

As Canada observes its 139th birthday it is an observation marked with somewhat more sobriety than that which will be exercised by our neighbours to the south. Even if we decide to throw a party, and “go all out”, we will not surpass the largess that the 4th of July invites in its excesses. The 4th of July is a day revered by those “south of the border”, by the people who have bumper stickers with slogans like, “America, Love it or leave it”.

It is a sobering thought, in a way, considering that the United States is now considered one of the two “superpowers”, though some would argue that it is the only one. Regardless of that, as a superpower consider this: on the 4th of July the United States is the equivalent of a drunkard staggering around with a loaded gun … their finger pulling the trigger with the safety disengaged. Which brings up the issue of maturity.

Does a nation age in the same way as humans? If so, we are mere adolescents to the “adult” Americans (who are mere toddlers to the Austrians, or Poles), but history would tell us that this isn’t really the case at all. Canada is definitely experiencing growing pains at the moment, as evidenced by the political events of the past year, but all in all I’d have to say that as a nation we were doing quite well.

The way Canada has dealt with the United States since the contrived “war on terrorism” began in Iraq reminded me of my first day of high school. While in the boy’s room I was offered a joint from a guy in my homeroom. I didn’t know what to do (screaming in fear wasn’t an option since I was gutless, and “M”, name changed to protect me, was already about six feet tall), but I didn’t smoke … so I said, “no, thanks.”

Much to my surprise, M said, “no problem, man. Let me know if you change your mind.”

That was when I learned the most important lesson of my life (yes, LIFE): Peer Pressure was a lie. Let me rephrase that: Peer Pressure is a manufactured construct used to excuse people from having to take responsibility for their actions. Peer Pressure is the ultimate “Not Me” excuse. Nobody is at fault when Peer Pressure is to blame. The only problem is that Peer Pressure also explains the actions of Lemmings. You remember the Lemmings, don’t you? They are little rat-like critters that run, en masse, off the tops of cliffs, falling to their deaths in the ocean. That is the message of Peer Pressure: follow along and die in ignorance.

That is what Canada has said to the United States regarding the war on terrorism. “Yes, Mr. President, we believe that there are “evildoers”, and they must be “doed” with, but the evildoers that “doed” you, well, Mr. President, if you think they are all in Iraq, you’re a bloody idiot. Find some other allies to kill this time.”

Canada said no to going to war in Iraq because it was the right thing to do. It was the mature thing to do.

Hopefully we shall continue on this path in years to come.

Happy Canada Day!


Anonymous said...

And Happy Canada Dat to you too. Just think... if we didn't move to Canada on July 1st, 1967... you too might have had that bumber sticker... America, love it or leave it...
We choose to leave.

Anonymous said...

"Peer Pressure is a manufactured construct used to excuse people from having to take responsibility for their actions."

In many cases peer pressure is just an excuse, but not in all cases.