Thursday, 19 January 2017

The world does indeed need more Canada

I wrote the title to this post with some reluctance. I am not a patriot and have little use for flag-waving. Nonetheless, I believe Barack Obama was right when he declared, "the world needs more Canada." The reason came home to me while reading an essay in the Guardian by Charles Foran entitled "The Canada experiment: is this the world's first 'postnational' country?" He was picking up on our Prime Minister's comment in an interview with the New York Times Magazine. "There is no core identity," Trudeau had said, "no mainstream in Canada.”

This struck a chord with me. I experience little blood and soul connection to my country, even while recognizing my great good luck being born here. To me, loyalty to your society is best expressed not by emotional binging but by being a good citizen. That applies to all the societies of which you are a part, your local community, your city, your province, your country, the world. It means being a good person and an involved citizen.

Foran's thesis is that a lack of a core identity allows Canada to readily absorb people of any identity, filling "our spaces with the diversity of the world." We are creating a country that not only enjoys the prosperity that diversity brings but also a society with a refreshing openness, a society that can evolve, that can "respond to newness without fear." Inclusiveness is practical as well as moral.

The ability to live without a national identity has allowed us to avoid the nativism (Stephen Harper's "old stock Canadians" notwithstanding) and the right-wing populism plaguing so much of the Western world at the moment.

With the greatest challenges to our species now being global—climate change, nuclear war, inequality, refugees—never before have we been more in need of societies that are not inhibited by identity based on religious and racial norms, societies able to get beyond tribalism and open themselves to the world. By offering proof that such a society can be realized and prosper, we do the world a service.

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