Friday, 22 February 2013

Gettin' Real Sick of Canadians

      Ever since I learned in high school history that nationalism was one of the primary triggers of World War I, I've been suspicious of being overproud of where I was from. Canada has a pretty good worldwide reputation, but what did we (especially younger people) do to deserve that? And moreover, what does saying "I'm Canadian" have to do with anything? You live between this line and this line, that's all it really means. All of the worst people I know are Canadian. Does that make it a bad place? No, it just means I live here.

Nationalism in a nutshell.

      You don't get to claim the traditions of the area you're from if you did not contribute to whatever it is you're talking about. War veterans can be proud of our freedoms. You (unless you are one) can't; you didn't risk your life for it. You can be happy about it, but you cannot logically or reasonably claim it and it is the word "proud" that really rots my ass in this whole mess. This pride is indicative of privilege, stereotype, and mental weakness.

      Up until the last few years, I've been the first one in a room to yell how proud I was to be Canadian. But I realized that that didn't have any bearing on me, my values, or even the people I learn from. I went through the entire list of my favourite authors and musicians, and of them one was a Canadian band and one was Scottish author with Canadian citizenship; everyone else was English or American.* So much for carrying the torch. The one local (from Windsor) author I've read wrote an embarassingly bad book that made two separate anachronistic errors in one sentence on the first page.**
      Instead of being proud of where you're from, we ought to just say we're happy about it, because you didn't do anything to earn it. You were born, congratulations, here's your trophy. If you vote, and the MP/MPP/Party/Prime Minister you voted for does something that makes the province or country a better place, then you can logically have a microscopic modicum of pride in your country, because technically, you did something. Inasmuch as a government represents its people (debatable), I am very, very un-proud of Harper-era Canada.

      Often Canadian pride has much to do with not being American; here in Windsor especially, where we can look out our windows and see Detroit. You know what? I am happy to not be American. I'm also happy to not be Ugandan. That's not how I define myself. A negative definition is no definition.

Negative Defintions: Useless.

     Sometimes this is a statement full of gratitude, usually when observing or learning of some tragedy, about how good life is within these state borders. Saying you're grateful to live where you are is pandering, whether intentional or not, to happenstance, or if you'd prefer, your god of choice. Again, it's different to say you're happy about it, but grateful? To whom? Did your parents make the tough decision between continuing to live where they did or moving to North Korea? Did they intend for you to have the (comparatively) privileged life that you do?  No, they raised you as per the dictates of the society that you were both born in, which is why you even know those concepts.

      What's more, saying you're grateful you were born here suggests there's someone or something to be grateful to which means that someone or something actively causes famine, flood, drought and disease elsewhere. That's SICK.

      In essence, you have the causality mixed up. You don't live where you do because you are lucky, you feel lucky because you live where you do.

      Canadian stereotypes are sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, but always cliché:

      I don't like maple syrup. I don't like anything maple flavoured. Bite my ass.

      I don't wear flannels because we've figured out how to make every garment made out of a certain material an ugly one. Great show, Canada.

      I do drink Tim Horton's coffee sometimes (not at all exclusively), because I feel it has a good, harsh bite to the taste of it, it's cheap, and their machines get hotter than my own.

      I do enjoy  hockey, but it's not a religion, because religions are stupid. With the season being locked out this year, I've realized how easily I can live without it.

      I've never met a lumberjack.

      We're not that nice. I meet more pricks than nice people, and I work with the public. All the biggest assholes I know were born and raised in Canada.

      I do say "aboot." I'm taking the piss out of morons who think we actually say that.

      Curling is stupid. It's not even a game like golf is a game, it's just doing housework unproductively.

      Our free health care is good, but not great, and it will go down more because people don't understand the mechanics that a system of that magnitude requires and don't want to support it.

      Similarly, our education is being Nerfed because of intellectual concessions we are making for the sake of political correctness that no one you'll ever talk to actually agrees with.

Bowl of snotty fries, anyone?

     Poutine is disgusting.

      Classified is an awful rapper. He's boring and his songs suck, especially his pandering, heart-strings piece of garbage about this country. Drake sucks, too.

      I don't hate Justin Beiber. I don't like him, but I don't hate him either. He's just there. I don't know how to define Canadian, but he's obviously not it.

      And past any of those statements, you can't say anything about me. Am I a bad Canadian?

      Let's be clear: I am not ashamed of the country to which I claim citizenship, I just think it's an arbitrary distinction.

      American patriotism is an oft-lampooned topic, but I think it might actually make more sense than our own. You'll hear a lot of "America is the greatest country in the world" garble, but is that so wrong? Countries and their attributes are extremely hard to define, about as hard as it is to have a conversation with 315 million people, in this case. So why not just pull a line out of your cornhole and hammer it home at every opportunity you get? Nobody is reasoning anything anyway!

      It's especially weird to hear Anti-American definition in Windsor, Ontario. A large part of our economy and culture is overflow from Detroit, Michigan yet these same people are virulently anti-American in their self-definition. Those same people are hockey fanatics; (fair enough) and some of them are Detroit Red Wings fans. If you were to ask them why they are Wings fans, instead of Toronto Maple Leafs fans, you'll get one of three answers:

                          1.Detroit is closer.

                          2.There are just as many Canadian players on the American team anyway.
                          3.They had such and such childhood experience that engendered a love of the Wings in them (Dad was a Wings fan, loved Steve Yzerman, first hockey game was at the Joe, etc.).

      So at some levels, some of the people who would fight you if you were to call them American have already done away with border lines. I am not saying there is something wrong with patriotism, I'm saying there is a lot wrong with unfounded patriotism, and the aspersions that it can cast.

      We are in fact being dragged down by this kind of thinking, because it allows for mental sloth; "We're better than them, so we don't need to work at it." This has taken serious hold in the United States where the ratio of doctors and professors who are actually American compared to those who are foreign born is beginning to get pretty sad for a country so well equipped to lead the world.

      We need to be more realistic about our shortcomings, and then work at them, and stop letting politicians get away with wasting our time and money. Enlightenment knows no geographical borders. If we develop a national culture of work ethic and realism instead of inflated ego and flag waving, then the things we do under that maple leaf will be worth something.

      Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

*Protest the Hero; Jack Whyte.

**Stephen Gaspar, in To Know Evil referred to the "Roman Emperor" during Hannibal's invasion through the Alps in the second century B.C. When Hannibal crossed the Alps, during the third century B.C, Rome was a republic; there was no emperor. This man is a teacher.


  1. I hear DPRK is nice this time of year, I'm sure they could use some help in the Gulags if you're not happy in Canada.

    1. Congratulations, Anonymous, on being an emotional bitch and completely missing the point! You've successfully demonstrated the status quo.