As someone not a stranger to undercutting my own arguments with grand overstatement – Remember that doozy of mine when I criticized our mayor by stating that the guy must be on crack or something? – I’m not prepared to write off the entire premise of Matthew Hays’ Guardian article because he suggested Canada has ‘devolved into some rightwing hellhole’. I imagine the state of Mississippi to be the model of a righwing hellhole. We’ve crept closer to that fiery crevasse than I would’ve imagined a few years ago but we’ve still got a ways to go in my estimation.
Still, I believe Mr. Hays offers up a useful mirror to peer into especially those of us of a certain age who grew up basking in the beneficent warmth of the Pearson Peace Prize-Trudeau Just Society. We were peacekeepers not warriors. Reasonable stewards of the earth. Beloved by all nations. We proudly attached maple leafs on our backpacks as we roamed the planet, spreading the gospel of hockey and our tolerant non-judgement all over the world.
It was never all that, of course, but it’s hard to dispute that there’s been a drift away from what we believed were Canadian ideals of fairness, justice, compassion and collective cooperation. Hardly the ‘welfare state in the worst sense’, our current Prime Minister once claimed it was, we have though tilted a fair bit rightward from the days when our Tory blue glowed a little redder. It’s worth noting on this day when Nelson Mandella is laid to rest that it was our then Progressive Conservative prime minister who broke ranks with many of the rightwing luminaries of the time in his calling for an end to apartheid in South Africa.
Maybe, I don’t know, it’s just a case of youthful rebellion. Children, growing up to petulantly reject the beliefs of their parents, spreading their wings to cover new territory. It’s not so much that we disagree in principle with what we were taught. We just need our own space to evolve, grow.
So in electing the likes of Stephen Harper and Rob Ford we’re doing nothing more than acting out, establishing our own personalities distinct from our predecessors. It’s a phase. We’ll grow out of it.
If we have become, as Mr. Hays asserts, “…crude, swaggering, bungling, irrational and mendacious”, who else would those adjectives describe? Americans. Yeah, sure. Remind you of anybody else? Teenagers! Exactly. Self-indulgent know-it-alls prone to exuberant mood swings of wild proportions. We’re still developing, trying out different personas to see which one fits us best.
As any good parent or guardian should be, I think Mr. Hays is rightly concerned at some of our more excessive outbursts of anti-social behaviour. We have embraced a love of irrationality, eliminating from our diet anything that might challenge our firmly held beliefs. The long form census? TMI. We’ve rejected the notion of consensus-building in favour combativeness. It’s now a black-and-white world out there, populated by potential enemies not allies. Israel, good. Iran, evil. The country’s maintained a teenager’s love of a messy bedroom, however, comfortably promoting a dirty agenda of fossil fuel exploitation and ignoring pleas to try and clean up, just a little, like we promised to back in the day.
These are worrisome inclinations on our part if a loss of what some of us believe to be positive Canadian ideals matters at all. While Matthew Hays might be a little over the top in his reaction to our current pattern of bad manners, there’s nothing wrong in sitting us down and trying to get some sort of explanation about why it is we’re doing what we’re doing. The warning signs are all there.
I mean, if Rob Ford and Conrad Black are the type of people others think about when they think about Canadians, there can be little question that this place has become unrecognizable to many of us.
— sadly submitted by Cityslikr