Now, how did we come to arrive in this mess of almost "Paradise Lost"?
Well, to understand the root causes, we have to go back to the beginning
of European settlement in this country. (Oh, I know, to be politically
correct I should start with the immigration of the "First Nations" across
the Bering Straits land bridge from Siberia some 10,000-30,000 years ago.
But I won't. It would take too long and it really has nothing to do with
our situation today, although the descendants of these early immigrants
have become expert at whining, also. But, remember what I said about
political correctness on my home page?)
We need to understand why we have the national characteristics we do.
Why are we so different from the other North Americans who live to the
south of us? The answer to this question is at the root of everything, and
it only goes back 400 years at most.
Here follows a historical note:
The story of European settlement in the Americas is above all a
cautionary tale of the danger of overwheening self-righteousness born out
of religious conviction.
It began 450 years ago in South America where during a period of 300
years, the Spanish and their descendants, spurred on and abetted by the
Catholic Church, systematically raped, tortured, pillaged and murdered
hundreds of thousands of aboriginal inhabitants, and wiped out highly
sophisticated civilizations in the name of gold and god.
It continued 350 years ago in North America, in the territory now the
United States. The earliest Europeans who came there were protestant
religious misfits, fleeing the persecution of the established christian
churches in their homelands - on the whole a joyless bunch of religious
zealots, believing in an avenging god, pessimistic in the extreme, and
consumed by self-righteousness and, very quickly following their arrival,
a willingness to do unto others what they did not want done unto
Is it any wonder that many of their descendants should have many of
these same characteristics? What else can explain the hold religious
fundamentalism has on the United States at the beginning of the 21st
century. (After all, what else can explain the fact that more than
two-thirds of Americans literally believe in angels, the devil,
everlasting hellfire?) What else can explain the self-centered,
self-righteous American foreign policies? Of course, it also helps to
explain much that is positive, much that has been achieved by Americans,
who as individuals often are the most generous people on earth. (Nothing
is ever totally black or white, after all!)
Now, if ancient and modern religious fundamentalism help explain the
United States, what characterizes Canada? Well, in a way, the aboriginal
people who lived in our part of the continent were more fortunate than the
others. No one tried to exterminate them; not by design mind you, but by
accident of location and settlement.
Yes, Canada, whether "English" or "French", was settled, not by
adventurers, religious or corporate; no, we owe our passive, timid,
unprepossessing, unexciting nature to the fact that we are largely the
descendants of bureaucrats, and second-rate bureaucrats at that!
That's the people whom the French and the British sent in here to
"civilize" a continent. That's why we have a penchant for endless and
super-expensive royal commissions that lead nowhere, why we whine about
our little problems, instead of celebrating our achievements, why we let
ourselves be governed by little minds who can think of nothing more
original than to imitate what happens "south-of-the-border".
Yes, Canada could be paradise, it has all the prerequisites, except
perhaps one. It is missing a self-confident population, led by people with
vision! Instead we have Stephen Harper! God help us all! On
second thought, no thanks, you've done enough!
Oh yes, one more thing! Despite it all, this is the best country in
the world. We may have winter, but we also have summer. We may have
Stephen Harper, but we never had Hitler or Bush. We may have Alberta, but we don't have the Gobi
Desert. We may have CÚline Dion, but we
don't have Jerry Lewis. We may have CasinoRama, but we don't have Las
Vegas! We may have Stockwell Day, but we don't have Pat Buchanan! We may
have had Conrad Black, but we don't have Geraldo Rivera! We may have black
flies, but we don't have alligators. We have the Rocky Mountains, we have
the Royal Canadian Air Farce, we have Rick Mercer, we have unpolluted air
and water (except in Toronto). And we have Sheila Copps (somewhere...)!
What more do you want?