It occurred to me on my quiet way to work today, the day after Canada Day, that Canadians still live in the best country in the world. You can stop rolling your eyes now, I saw that. As I was sitting on the nearly empty express bus, watching the sun shine across the Ottawa river, listening to and being ennobled by the message in "Northern Wish", the Rheostatics' painterly paean to our home and native land, got off the bus and walked in to my particular workplace overhung with gently waving red-and-white flags, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of national pride and gratitude for being able to live and work here.
Despite all human attempts to destroy the planet that we live on (witness the current, horrific belching of thousands of gallons of crude oil every day in the Gulf of Mexico), economic disaster lurking at every turn, wars and injustices continuously being carried out in countries all across the globe; pointless, ridiculously expensive meetings of world leaders right here at home (see post below) and hundreds of other daily annoyances - some large, some small and insignificant in the broad scheme of things - we still have it better than most. Hell, you want bad news, you know where to find it. We're bombarded with it every day from all sorts of different angles. There are a thousand valid reasons why we should all be stalking Parliament Hill with placards, megaphones and possibly molotov cocktails, shouting angrily in protest of one thing or another and demanding justice, fair treatment and funding for our own particular pet cause - what used to be called "special interests". Save for a misguided, vocal minority infected with a virulent, wrongheaded sense of entitlement, Canadians don't do that. What we do best is quietly go about our daily business to the best of our ability. The old-fashioned work ethic that saw our predecessors through hard times in the past continues - it just never makes the news.
Don't get me wrong - I'm in favour of many of the things that reasonable, intelligent people write and/or protest about. I also believe our country needs a bit of a political and economic reboot. There are real problems that I won't diminish. I'm not naïve enough to believe that Canada really looks like a Group of Seven painting - but if you get far enough out of the city, it does... What we often forget in our efforts to shout above the din is that there's still an awful lot of good here. Our national identity is something we've struggled with since 1867, but the best thing about the Canada that our parents grew up in was that anyone with a dream could succeed with enough tenacity (and a bit of luck). Somehow, even with all the doom and gloom of the world today, it's still possible. Tune out the naysayers - the world, our little corner in particular, is what you make of it.
Happy Canada Day!