Thursday, July 01, 2004

Happy Canada Day!

I'm not really a nationalist. No, I'm somewhat scared of nationalism, no matter what the stripe.

Still, there's something beautiful about the country I live in. It has a certain natural, confident on-the-fenceness that I like. And, reluctant as I am to say such a sentimental thing, I am truly proud to be a Canadian citizen.

Some words on Canada from a man much wiser than me:
[The lack of a monolithic mythology like other nation-states] is described by most federalists and anti-federalists alike as the failure of Canada. The failure to become like the others. To regularize a monolithic mythology. Some weep before the ever-retreating mirage of the unhyphenated Canadian. Others say its continued existence proves that the country is not real and cannot exist. For me, this failure to conform is in fact our greatest success. A proof of originality which we refuse to grasp as a positive...

The essential characteristic of the Canadian public mythology is its complexity. To the extent that it denies the illusion of simplicity, it is a reasonable facsimile of reality. That makes it a revolutionary reversal of the standard nation-state myth. To accept our reality -- the myth of complexity -- is to live out of step with most other nations. It is an act of non-conformity.

My own sense is that the citizenry accept their non-conformity with some ease. They live it and so it makes sense. The elites, on the other hand, fret at being out of sync with elites in other countries, particularly those in the business and academic communities. But politicians also seem increasingly affected by a need to conform on some level perceived to be higher. It is an emotional or psychological problem. They don't want to feel out of step.
Yeah, it's John Ralston Saul, from Reflections of a Siamese Twin. (I am an unabashed fan of Mr. Saul's.)

Happy Canada Day, my friends. Bonne FĂȘte du Canada, cher(e)s ami(e)s. Cherish our complexity and originality.

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